ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO

11 08 2007

The August 2nd election was one of the happier ones I’ve participated in lately, if only because I adjusted my expectations. I really liked David Briley, but it was becoming obvious that he wasn’t going to win, so I voted for my second choice, Karl Dean, because I didn’t want to see a runoff election between Bob Clement and Buck Dozier. Well, Karl Dean ended up the front runner, at least in this round. It’s not often that my guys win, these days.

But I didn’t have anything to worry about on the Buck Dozier front, because Howard Gentry surged on ahead and came within just a few hundred votes of taking Clement out of the race entirely. Gentry is an easy-going, soft spoken guy, in my experience (which consists of talking to him a few times about diet and nutrition in the health food store where I used to work), but I bet he got a little steamed about that. When you lose an election by that small a margin, you can go back and think about all the little things you could have done that would have gotten you over the top. Almost taking out Bob Clement is small consolation for involuntary retirement from public life. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Mr. Gentry.

The vice-mayoral race between Carolyn Baldwin Tucker and Diane Neighbors raised an interesting question: what’s more important, being populist or being progressive? I had been prepared to slam Ms. Tucker for being a fundamentalist homophobe when someone writing to fellow bloggers Sean Braisted and S-town Mike raised the point that, while Diane Neighbors is a “progressive,” she has also been known to ignore her constituents’ wishes and work to accommodate developers, while Ms. Tucker is known for responding to the needs of the people of Nashville. It didn’t change my vote, but I did choose to hold my fire.

The fundamentalist question decided another vote for me. When Ken Jakes praised Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, saying

” I AM VERY MUCH IN SUPPORT OF MS. TUCKER FOR VICE MAYOR. SHE IS A GOOD CHRISTIAN LADY WITH THE PEOPLE AND CONCERNS FOR NASHVILLE AT HEART. SHE WILL HOLD TRUE TO HER BELIEF EVEN IF IT IS NOT THE BEST POLITICALLY. SHE VOICED HEAVY OPPOSITION TO THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION ORDINANCE THAT WAS PRESENTED TO THE COUNCIL IN 2003. SHE VIEWS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL AS A PUBLIC SERVANT AS WELL….”

I decided that, although I had no clear idea where Lonnell Matthews Jr. stood on these questions, I’d rather vote for him. He says on his Myspace page that two of his favorite musicians are Bob Marley and “The Beattles,” and so I don’t guess he’s too Christian for an old spiritual hedonist like me, even if he can’t spell the name of one of his favorite bands.

The District One Council race, like the mayoral race and four of the council-at-large seats, will be going into a runoff, because the election split three ways without any candidate getting a majority. Ken Jakes got the most votes, 1500, with Lonnell and “Bug” Mason neck and neck at just over a thousand, somewhat to my surprise. Mr. Mason’s parents run one of the largest churches in the area, and I’m guessing that had something to do with his strong showing–but Lonnell beat him by just two dozen votes. Again, this election shows the power that just a few voters can wield.

In another local council race, former Green Party Senate candidate Chris Lugo came in dead last, with only 69 votes, but said that when he got involved in the candidate forums, he realized there was a lot of consensus about the issues among the candidates, and felt that he didn’t need to push his candidacy in order to see his issues advanced. Dude, that’s great, but if you want to be a serious politician you got to have more ego than that! Gee, maybe Chris is being an example of that “new paradigm” everybody keeps talking about….

The at-large metro council race has also been thrown into a runoff, with the top eight candidates who didn’t get the 10% of the vote necessary to secure a seat vying for the four remaining seats. Many of those in the runoff are former district reps who want to stay on, which increases my previously stated suspicion that a lot of people voted in their sleep. Tim Garrett, a slightly-liberal guy for whom I would not vote, was the only candidate elected this time around. He has been a metro council member and a state legislator–at the same time, no less–I guess he just likes to do the government thing. But his take on homelessness–“Left unchecked, this problem will discourage residents and tourists from spending time in our city’s vibrant commercial districts. I will work to increase the presence of police on the street to protect the interests of everyone who lives, works and plays in our historic city center.”–shows either a failure to understand the issue or else a facile pandering to the fears of mainstream voters, either one of which turns me off.

Fortunately, two of my candidates made it to the runoff–Megan Barry and Jerry Maynard. The one who didn’t, Jon Davidson, was hampered by medical problems and the Nashville Scene’s laxness in contacting him for a statement in their issue on the Metro at-large races. They left a phone message for him Tuesday afternoon for a story whose deadline was Tuesday afternoon, and so by the time he got back to them, it was too late. Yo, Scene! Try a little harder, hey? My man Jon woulda done better than that with a little help from your readers! But noooo……..you call him at the last minute! What kind of journalism is that?

But Jon was pretty happy about the results–he doubled the number of votes he received when he ran for the state legislature. In a press release, he said,”I believe that we will wind up with a better council as a whole after the runoff. I am firmly convinced that my controversial attempts to connect local government actions with the Iraq war and global warming forced some people to think, and if that isn’t a green victory I don’t know what is.”

Jon, to me a Green victory is when we take office. It’s not enough just to make people think. Come the the candidates’ school at the end of the month and pick up some pointers!

So, the runoff election will be September 11. Why do I think there’s something ominous about that date? Oh, don’t be superstitious! Just because the US overthrew Salvador Allende in Chile and SOMEBODY flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that date, doesn’t mean the US economy, which is starting to seriously crumble under the weight of the subprime bust, will be in total ruins by then. But hey, that’s another story…..

music: Kate Wolf, “The Hobo

 

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