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Lisa Czeladtko makes a canny move … maybe

Fri, Jan 7, 2011

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There’s nothing quite as fun as watching the transparent maneuvering of our local would-be politicos.

Consider Lisa Czeladtko’s apparently bizarre decision to abandon her at-large bid for city council, and run instead for the District 3 seat.

At first glance, it makes no sense. Czeladtko is a hard-working woman who has worked diligently to engage with the community and build name recognition during the last couple of years. Given the present slate of candidates for the five at-large seats, and even assuming that there will be several more entrants into the race, Czeladtko (or, as she prefers to be known, Lisa C) would win easily.

The political arithmetic is simple. Five at-large seats are up for grabs. You don’t have to be anyone’s first choice, as long as you’re on enough ballots as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th choice. The ballot will most likely be stacked with men and geezers, so being young and female should help.

Yet she’s chosen to run against Mike Merrifield, a seasoned political veteran who has won four contested races in House District 18, which includes much of Council District 3. He’s a tough opponent, and he may benefit from heavy turnout from supporters of Richard Skorman’s mayoral bid, making Lisa C’s job even more difficult.

So why did she do it?

Here’s my guess. Once Sean Paige decided to run at large, she was encouraged to step into the District 3 race by the local Republican establishment, who are still smarting over Karen Cullen’s defeat in HD 18 by Merrifield’s successor, Pete Lee. Sallie Clark promptly endorsed Lisa C, as did Jerry Heimlicher, whose resignation a couple of years ago triggered Paige’s appointment to the vacant seat.

Heimlicher’s endorsement was most likely the consequence of a deal made when Lisa C abandoned her race against him in 2007. It’s not likely to have much effect, since Heimlicher is both gone and largely forgotten. Clark’s endorsement makes sense as well, since she’s sparred with Merrifield for nearly a decade, and would love to see him taken down by her protégé.

So what’s in it for Lisa C? Suppose she loses? My guess is that the Repubs will reward her for either taking out or attempting to take out Merrifield with the greatest prize in city politics: a seat on the County Commission. Clark is term limited in 2012, and the party will need an attractive, articulate candidate to replace her.

Why not Lisa C?

Maybe she’s not so dumb after all.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Rich Says:

    John: As it stands now, Clark is not term limited by virtue of the November election results on term limits. Unless the new board of commissioners put a more straight-forward and understandable term limit issue on the ballot next November, and the voters approve reverting to only two terms, she can run again in 2012, and will.

  2. Scott Hente Says:

    Oh, I wouldn’t over-analyze this too much. Sometimes you just make a calculated decision that it is easier (and cheaper) to get more name recognition and establish yourself in a the less crowded District race.

    I know of someone else who was going to run for an At Large seat and then changed his mind and ran for a District seat – Me. And it will allow me to serve 10 years versus eight if I had run for the At Large seat back in 2003.

  3. lisa czelatdko Says:

    lisa czelatdko Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    January 10th, 2011 at 10:31 pm
    Well John, I think you and I will forever carry the burden of having to correct others in the misspelling of our last names. I may not have lucked out with having to write out CZELATDKO, but I lucked out with the man, so it works for me. The current District 3 councilman announced he was running at large after I submitted paperwork and announced my decision to run for District 3. To switch from at large to District 3 was common sense. I live in D3 and understand the strengths, challenges, concerns and wants of my neighbors. There are less than 70 days until ballots go out. I have more of an opportunity to get around the district introducing myself and listening to what D3 residents want from their Council representation rather than trying to spread myself too thin across the City. Economically it is a better and more realistic choice in this short campaign cycle. You forgot to mention my opponent lost his race for County Commissioner just a mere couple of months ago when the voters said NO to him. Is City Council a consolation prize? I am the best candidate for District 3 because I have passion for this community, enthusiasm to learn, ability to recognize experience and knowledge in others, an ethical character, and willingness to push hard thru the bureaucracy and say yes! Vote for Lisa C. District 3 City Council