To be sure, The Old Sprawler has signs in her yard, and she has made her decision, but the options for voters are not optimum. We're not looking at a field of candidates that exactly
Yesterday the candidates participated in a forum that was so tightly controlled that the most the newspaper found to say about it was that it was tightly controlled. I don't have a problem with clear and specific rules, but if it was so rigid that voters didn't get a chance to hear the candidates speak to the issues that matter to them, then the entire exercise was a waste of time. It shed no light on where they might stand on any issue that may be of importance to voters. And sometimes, it only takes a hairline of difference to make that distinction. Apparently that one didn't succeed.
So looking at the candidates, we have one incumbent who has a boxcar load of financial baggage hanging over him, and yet the local paper hasn't really made much of that. His family owned a piece of property that they wanted to sell for a tank farm. It was just over the hill from a residential neighborhood that has had plenty of trouble trying to get cleaned up in terms of slumlords, poverty and the accompanying ills. Surprisingly, when that neighborhood rose up in anger, the plan was scuttled. It's also significant to note that the candidate sleezed out on money owed to former employees, not to mention the tax woes with the city, and other similar business problems. Yet, he is running for council and because he is from "that neighborhood" where they stick together like that last battalion marooned on a Pacific island, he is going to be supported. It matters not that his personal business is in the sewer.
Another incumbent grills speakers who come before council with their issues as though they are unreliable witnesses against his client in a personal injury case. His disrespect and verbal combativeness is legendary, as is his arrogance and dismissiveness.
The third incumbent is recycled from a previous council and barely made the cut last time. Another one who likes to pontificate, he shows up at neighborhood group meetings and acts like he's all for them. On a more personal note, I can honestly say that the only time he's ever really had anything much to do with da Big Kitty and me would be when he wants something. Classic example: in his previous term on council there was a school board appointment coming up. He blew me off when I called on behalf of the teachers' association. Then, when his second run at council was in trouble, he came to me wanting the teachers' support. I had all I could do to keep from laughing in his face. The teachers most certainly were NOT supporting him and I sure as hell wasn't going to suggest they do otherwise. He'd already screwed us, and the city, on his choice for school board.
We have a another former city council member running this time. She changed her vote on an issue that set us back another batch of years on a civic improvement project. If they'd gone forward with it, we'd have a great stadium - out of the flood plain - that could host some really terrific events. She was silent when her neighbors were up in arms about a project that would forever alter their neighborhood, but she says neighborhoods are important. Well, they all do, but she and the incumbents seem to like the tax money they think they'll be reaping at the expense of a lovely little modest neighborhood more than they do the residents. Her neighbors aren't likely to forgive her for that deal any more than I will ever forgive her for changing her vote on something that was so forward thinking for this city. Neither should anyone else. She can't be trusted.
I'm going to dismiss the three tea party candidates with one sentence: Taxes are like dues you pay to belong to an organization; being opposed to taxes is like saying you want to be a Rotarian, but you don't think you should have to pay the dues.
One newish face is a person who has tried unsuccessfully to run for statewide office. She is very smart, very difficult, and an extremely hard worker. I happen to like her a lot, but I've certainly had my issues with her. To her credit, she's made some changes in her life that have substantially made her a much more positive and likeable individual. Because she listens, one should never assume anything. Listening to constituents is one of the strengths she would bring to the table. Being able to ferret out what would be best for the body politic is another matter. Can she do that? I'd say yes. She hears what other people miss. She can draw the conclusions accordingly.
One of the independent candidates has been to more city council meetings than some of the sitting council members. She has heard all of the proceedings. She is aware of the issues that face the current council and she is quick to point out where they have spoken out of both sides of their collective mouth. My only complaint is that she has focused on the idea that the city has spent enough time, money and energy on the downtown and that she wants the money to go out to the neighborhoods. What she wants to have happen is less clear. I like her attitude and I like the fact that she has been blogging about the foibles and the various messes created by bad decisions. My problem is that she's focused them on her own corner of the town. I'd like to know what her vision for the rest of the city would be.
Finally, the last independent candidate is less known to me, and so far from what I've seen, he's not likely to get any more press space in the paper unless he says or does something truly spectacular. That said, I know the people who are behind his candidacy and for them I have a ton of respect. They wouldn't be putting up just anyone and I know this fellow is smart as hell or he wouldn't have their support. He would represent a segment of our city that always needs representation, and he'd probably do so in a more forceful way than either of the other two folks who come from that neck of the woods. (Those two need to retire from council!) From the very little that has come out, I think he bears watching and probably a chance.
We're going to have a couple of additional council forums and it will be interesting to see if the candidates do anything to distinguish themselves. I certainly hope so because if there is any one word that describes this campaign season, it is dreary.
Come on, candidates! Roll up your sleeves and get controversial! Show us what's really going on! Quit playing it safe! You aren't going to stick out in this crowd of flat-liners unless you do. Somebody lob the first rock at the incumbents, please! The targets are so big you can't miss!