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.