I have been watching local elections for a while. I have been watching life longer. Little surprises any of us anymore and the results (despite ridiculous problems from the Leon County Elections website) from Tuesday’s election are no exception.
At the risk of offending…I will use a thought I offered in a sermon over the weekend – “We are who we elect.”
The message sent to most of those re-elected is this – We do not care if you lie, we do not care if you are deceitful, we do not care if you are clueless about the issues we face, we do not care if you leave our community less-safe, we do not care if you reward your “friends” with our tax dollars, we do not even care if you live in the district you represent. We send you back to office because you reflect our values.
It is a sad, very sad commentary.
But, given that the current newspaper of record printed outlandish lies and continued a long tradition of last second attacks on outsiders what can one expect. I do not think that the endorsements of the local paper meant much, though some low information voters probably followed its lead. I do think the withholding of information and the accumulative effect of not reporting the goings on downtown and in (or should I say, out of) District 8 mattered a great deal.
I’ll offer a short comment or two about each of the races that will affect this region for a few years.
Forrest Van Camp was primarily done in by the fact that the local paper made an issue out of nothing. The questions raised by construction at local schools presented a big shadow. Certainly, Alva Swafford Striplin had a simple, concise message: we need a teacher’s voice on the school board. But, Striplin will have to prove that she is really going to be a local voice because there are questions about what she really believes regarding local versus national control of education.
City Commission Seat 2:
Curtis Richardson won as much as Diana Oropallo lost. She lost her cool at the Tallahassee Democrat (though I can understand how that can happen) and it hurt her badly. When I interviewed her and commented about how playing the “gender card” was not any different than playing the “race card” she bowed up a little. That was her second visit on the show when I asked more direct questions of all of the candidates. Listeners of the program were not impressed with her answers. Richardson will, at least, listen to dissenters and I think he might surprise some of you from time-to-time.
City Commission Seat 3:
This one stings and I lay it at the feet of the local newspaper of record. The Tallahassee Democrat knee-capped Steve Stewart every chance it could, even on election day with a ridiculous story involving Al Lawson. The paper chose to ignore the incumbent’s apparent dishonesty, even when it was admitted. The fact is, Steve Stewart’s fast growing newspaper is a threat because its reporting has put the other paper to shame. The incumbent proved to be clueless about a great many issues. Citizens can only hope that the independent ethics officer becomes a reality to keep an eye on what happens at City Hall.
Two good men made a go of challenging Andrew Gillum because someone had to and I comment Zack Richardson and Larry Hendricks for trying. For Hendricks it is a continuation of years of trying to get the voices heard of those who feel shut out by the arrogant nature of City Hall. For Richardson, few will ever know the personal “hell” he had to pay for daring to challenge Gillum who, it must be remembered, was allowed to not answer any meaningful questions during the entire election process. My goodness, the local newspaper of record actually reported early on that it was “Gillum’s race to lose” which is an unconscionable headline for anything but an Op/Ed, which that article was not.
State District 8:
Rep. Alan Williams, personally trained by Mayor John Marks, was reelected without having a single accomplishment listed on his campaign website. In fact, he does not live, in accordance with the rules of the State House passed last session (or the spirit of the State Constitution for that matter). So, some Leon County and all Gadsden County residents can expect to receive exactly what they have received thus far from Rep. Williams…nothing.
Lastly, this was NOT a primary, at least not for the local races. It’s over and I am ticked. I am angry because so many people had no clue how important this night was because it was called a “Primary”. That is what is said on the sample ballots, but nothing could be further from the truth and I will press the Secretary of State on the issue in the coming days. It might not have matted in the end, but for now…it’s all that is keeping me from becoming depressed. Professionally, I won tonight; personally, it was a bitter defeat.
Talk to you in the morning. - PRS