Sunday, February 20, 2011

Voting Blocks

The time has come to change the way you vote for city council candidates.  In the past, it was best to look for candidates that had good judgment, sound core values and willingness to devote the time required to study the issues and vote in the best interests of the community as a whole.  With the new form of government, that has all changed.  The balance of power is now clearly in the mayor’s office.  Under the new charter, he is charged with preparing a strategic plan and capital improvements plan and then creating a budget to meet and carry out those plans.  To effectively carry out any plans, the mayor needs enough votes to support any budget he proposes or at least to sustain a veto of any council budget.  The magic number is now four votes.  This means that when you decide which mayoral candidate gets your vote, you must also support that person with enough votes on council to help him achieve his goals. That means voting blocks.

Towards that end, there are now three groups of candidates forming.  First is the Doug Bruce contingent.  If we try to set aside Mr. Bruce’s insulting and condescending personality, he has consistently advocated a very limited local government: police services, public works, and maybe a fire department; little if anything else.  No land use planning, parks and recreation, housing programs, code enforcement, museums, nothing else.  Mr. Bruce has assembled a slate of candidates, who, if elected will likely do no thinking of their own, but will simply constitute additional votes for the Bruce voting block.

The second voting block is that group lead by the libertarian Sean Paige.  Next to the Bruce contingent, Paige almost looks like a centrist.  This group may have the support of the City Committee, the self-selected group who, at the instigation of Steve Bartolin and Paige, took on the project of reviewing the city budget with the goal of making it slim, trim and capable of funding all of the city’s basic needs with no new taxes.  After more than a year of looking, poking around and huge amounts of data from the city’s budget office, they still have not produced any public results.  A few private meetings to share their thoughts with existing council members and the candidates on April’s ballot perhaps, but nothing of much substance, and certainly nothing public.  This is a group that will only consider budget cuts and liquidating assets to make ends meet.

Finally, there is what is more truly a centrist group.  This is a group that probably would be happy if the city could just find a way to take care of the existing obligations, without adding any new ones.  It is one willing to consider new or additional taxes, budget cut, or both in an effort to meet the city’s basic needs.  It is also the group with the most difficult path to victory in April.  The coming election is a change election; the centrist group represents the status quo, which has been blamed for much of our current economic woes.

Choose your council candidates with care, but choose consistently to provide your mayoral candidate with working support on council.

Randy Purvis

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