The petitions are in, and the field is almost set for the April city council elections.
24 candidates have qualified to be on the April City Council ballot. One additional candidate, Susan Quilleash in District 4, has submitted petitions which have yet to be.
Council District 3 attracted the most attention with five candidates for the single district seat. It’s a formidable lineup, including former state legislator Keith King, former city council member Tom Gallagher, former county commissioner Jim Bensberg, 2010 US Senate Green Party candidate Bob Kinsey, and incumbent City Councilor Brandy Williams.
In District 1, incumbent council member Tim Leigh has four opponents, including Joe Barrera, Don Knight, Linda Mojer, and Julie Naye. Barerra has been active for many years in local and state politics, while the other three are as yet unknown quantities.
No additional candidates surface in the District 2 race, which will feature incumbent Angela Dougan, 2010 at-large candidate Bill Murray, and newcomer Joel Miller.
Like District 3, District 5 features several of highly qualified candidates. Hopefuls include incumbent Bernie Herpin, non-profit exec Jill Gaebler, D-11 School Board member Al Loma, and businessman Roger McCarville. McCarville is a political novice, but the other three have been civic and political activists for many years.
District 4 will also have five candidates, if Quilleash’s petitions are verified. It’s an interesting race, including Harrison School Board member Deborah Hendrix, recently released convict Gary Flakes, 2010 at-large city council candidate Helen Collins (who ran as a member of Doug Bruce’s “reform” slate), and Dennis Moore.
District 6 will pit ultra-conservative businessman Ed Bircham against pastor David Moore and newcomer Andres Pico. As we noted earlier, Moore should have the support of the political establishment, but Bircham has name recognition and the ability to self-fund his campaign – so we’ll see.
Since I live in District 3, I’m delighted that the race is so interesting. And it’ll be quite a race!
Keith King isn’t wasting any time. Yesterday, a flyer arrived in my mailbox from King’s campaign which was refreshingly different from the junk we became so used to last fall. King neither attacked his opponents nor patted himself on the back. Instead, he featured a brief quote from a reporter, noting that he had been a bridge-builder between Republicans and Democrats during his long tenure in the state legislature. On the reverse was a schedule of weekly meetings, each focusing on a different area of city concern, and each featuring a surprise guest. Before his opponents can define him as a divisive partisan politician, King has cast himself as a uniter, not a divider…don’t I remember that slogan from a successful campaign some years ago??!!
A race pitting the energetic 34 year-old Williams against four grizzled political warriors is certain to draw a lot of interest. Remember Ridley Scott’s famous Apple commercial, “1984”, which showed a brightly-clad woman runner triumph over the chanting minions of Big Brother? It’s easy to cast the race as the past vs. the future, youth vs. age, an energetic 34 year-old four weary, grizzled political warriors.
And as a grizzled old warrior standing on the sidelines, I have some suggestions!
Brandy Williams TV spot:
Theoretically, the geezers split the male/conservative/senior vote four ways, leaving Williams to coast in with a significant plurality. In practice, it may not work that way.
Populists Kinsey and Gallagher are likely to pull votes from Williams. To win, either Bensberg or King will have to become the 80906 default candidate. One has to significantly outpoll the other, making the next few weeks crucial to both campaigns.
That’s one scenario, but the race is fluid and unpredictable. To my knowledge, there’s never been a Council race like it, featuring four candidates who hold or have held elected office.
Only one person is missing: incumbent Lisa Czelatdko, who announced her decision not to seek re-election in a graceful email.
The mercurial Czelatdko, who seemed to oscillate between carefully reasoned analysis and impulsive outbursts at the Council dais, was never a methodical plodder. She was impatient, demanding, and often acted instinctively – and it cost her. An innocent post on Facebook was angrily misinterpreted, leading her to believe that political foes were deliberately trying to discredit her. She and Mayor Steve Bach got along as well as, say, metallic sodium and and water. I doubt whether we’ve seen the last of her in local politics – she’s had her baptism by fire, learned some hard lessons, and won’t repeat her rookie missteps should she choose to run for another office. As a young mother, she brought an uncommon perspective to city council.
I’ll miss her passion, her dedication, her frankness, and even her anger…although sometimes directed toward me.