We’ve probably all had our fill of national politics. I know I have, so I thought I’d turn to something that is hopefully a little less absurd – local politics, as in the city council, school board and park district. All three have a greater impact on our lives than anyone in the White House does, assuming that person in the White House doesn’t blow up the world. I can’t give any guarantees, considering one of the candidates.
Just little hints are beginning to surface on how the local races will present themselves. For the city council, the seats of Jerry Dawson, Chris Funk, and Pat McDaniel are up for election in 2017. The mayor’s seat is also up for election, currently held by appointed mayor Julie Moore-Wolf, who took the seat after the death of Mayor McElroy. Dawson is the only one that has indicated that he will not seek reelection.
As far as who the challengers will be for those seats, there’s not much to go on just yet. Chris Riley, who is currently an elected commissioner serving the park district, is the first to publicly throw his hat in. If he wins then his seat with the park district will be open, assuming his term is about up. I believe it is.
The school board is kind of a mess at the moment. After the fiasco of not renewing the contract of a superintendent most people felt was doing a good job, not many people are pleased. Admittedly, I’ve never followed the school board that well. It’s enough to try to keep up with the city council and park district but I know there’s a lot of discontentment out there with the school board. I’m not sure who will seek reelection and who the challengers will be. I think everybody is ducking for cover at the moment.
If social media comments, and just my personal conversations with Decaturites means anything, there’s quite a few people not terribly impressed with the city council. Several increased taxes, some decisions that didn’t sit well with much of the electorate, and a very unpopular city manager hasn’t made this bunch the most beloved council of all time. I’m not just hearing dissatisfaction among the usual naysayers but of people who usually are much more positive, so it’s different this time. The only council member that is getting any love at all is Bill Faber.
Since I have been writing this blog for so long, I’ve been through quite a few elections and I’ve learned the type of candidate that usually wins and those that don’t. Without serious name recognition in the community, it is very hard to win. I’ve seen candidates pour a lot of money into yard signs, billboards, and commercials and still lose big time. Labor candidates have a hard time because there’s not many union-affiliated folks out there anymore. Minority candidates generally have it tough too. Not many people come out to vote for municipal elections but those that do generally are well-informed. They follow city politics religiously. So, if you don’t know the issues well, you’ll be found out. That’s the number one reason why many candidates have failed.
I still remember one interview on the radio in which a candidate’s answer for everything was getting rid of parking meters downtown. High unemployment? Parking meters. Neighborhood woes? Parking meters. Cancer? Parking meters. It was too painful to listen to. There’s been some horrendous candidates in the past and unfortunately some won! And there’s been some that I think deserved more serious consideration and went away wounded. One thing is certain – it’s always interesting.