Candidates, formidable or not, get a jump on incumbents

Thu, Jan 31, 2013


Too bad, Angela Dougan! My condolences, Tim Leigh! Life is cruel, Bernie Herpin and Brandy Williams! You may all have hoped for the unalloyed happiness that comes with an uncontested City Council race. But the fates have decreed otherwise, and it looks as if voters in all six districts will be able to choose among two, three, four or even more candidates.

Here’s the lineup so far, including candidates whose petitions have been officially certified, those who have formally announced but whose petitions are yet to be certified by the city clerk, and those who haven’t announced but are expected to run.

Time, however, is not on the side of the laggards. Candidates such as Jim Bensberg, Keith King and Jill Gaebler are already fully engaged in the campaign, leaving incumbents Leigh, Herpin and Williams in catch-up mode.

District 1: Julie Naye and Don Knight have filed affidavits of candidacy. Leigh, though already endorsed by the Housing and Building Association, will not reveal his intentions until the Feb. 6 petition-filing deadline. The outspoken Leigh is the subject of a city ethics investigation prompted by his ongoing quarrel with Neumann Systems Group so he may decide that running for re-election isn’t worth the brain damage.

District 2: Dougan and Bill Murray.

District 3: Bensberg, King and Williams.

District 4: Gary Flakes, Deborah Hendrix and Dennis Moore.

District 5: Gaebler, Herpin, Al Loma and Roger McCarville.

District 6: Ed Bircham, David Moore and Andres Pico.

That’s 18 candidates altogether. Will there be more? We’ll see — but I’d be surprised if there aren’t.

So far, Districts 3 and 5 have the most interesting races. In the latter, 34-year-old incumbent councilor Brandy Williams faces off against a couple of canny old warhorses — former County Commissioner Bensberg, 58, and former state legislator/school board member King, who turns 65 on March 12. Both King and Bensberg are well known and well-regarded in the 80906 ZIP code, so her job is to keep them both in the race and hope that they split the traditionalist Republican vote. If Williams can run strongly in the Westside, get a majority of women voters and pick up support across the rest of the district, she could sneak in. If either King or Bensberg withdraws, she’ll have a much tougher race.

Gaebler has a similar task in District 5. As a young woman running against three guys, she needs to get women, younger voters, moderates, liberals, North-Enders, and her share of conservatives to win. Her deep roots in the charter school movement (she co-founded one of the best) will enable her to match conservative credentials with D-11 incumbent board member Loma, but Herpin’s name recognition and well-deserved popularity may be difficult for the other three candidates to overcome.

And what about District 6? Bircham may be despised by liberals, moderates and good-government types, but the deep-pocketed Bircham has great name recognition and the affection of the far right. He ran a strong race two years ago as a member of Doug Bruce’s reform slate, and he’s running against two political novices. Tom Harold has talked about jumping in the race, but if he decides against it, the race is Ed’s to lose. He’s already dumped $5,000 into the campaign, so if he keeps writing checks and avoids embarrassing media gaffes, he might just get himself elected. And if that sounds dismaying, too bad! If we can’t have Ron Paul, Ed’s a substitute — and only slightly loonier.

The HBA, as is its wont, has already jumped the gun by choosing to endorse candidates in all six districts well before the filing deadline. The organization clearly believes that any “serious” candidate would have approached them by then, assuming (perhaps correctly) that the lords of development are in charge of this particular goat rope. Well, maybe — we’ll see.

All candidates must file updated financial reports today. We’ll have the data for you on the Web late this afternoon, or you can plow through it yourself at

And finally, check out Julie Naye’s Facebook page. The notably attractive Ms. Naye is pictured giving a chaste hug to a fit, apparently somewhat older man, clearly a successful guy … her husband? Her youngish Dad? And look at his smile — he’s so delighted!

OMG! It’s Mitt Romney, flashing what may be the most genuine smile of his entire campaign.

Now there’s some Republican cred for you…

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Staci Lynne Holdt Says:

    I have not had time to check term end dates but does anybody know if this is a scenario possibly under-development stage:

    Lisa Czelatdko not running for council in that Clark will want to ditch commissioner seat to run for John Morris seat and have party install Mrs. Czelatdko as dist 3 commissioner?

  2. Rick Wehner Says:

    Staci Lynne:

    I believe Senate Seat for Dist 11 – John Morse, comes up in 2014 which fits your ‘scenario’. Do not think, however, Mrs. Clark would have to give up her seat as a county commissioner to run as she did when she ran unsuccessfully for Mayor while on city council. But many of us unaffiliated voters are paying close attention to the maneuvering you suspect is in play.

  3. Rick Wehner Says:

    Actually, that was not really clear: I think a county commissioner would not have to give up the commission seat to RUN for state office, but of course, would have to give up the seat if elected to state office.

    Then the replacement for the commission seat would be party-appointed in the manner that Amy Lathen was appointed upon Doug Bruce’s county commission seat dist 2 being vacated as he left for his brief stint in the House. (The state house, not the one with the steel bars.)