Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Elaine's take on the ENA city council candidate forum

For me (I dropped off my ballot this morning) this is an interesting read, but unfortunately came too late to help me make my decision.

This is especially interesting for the candidates I didn't vote for. Take Tony Sermonti:

Sermonti in a snazzy suit. (Note to Sermonti: I think Oly is not so much a suit kinda town.) I actually felt bad for him, because he was totally off-key on the isthmus issue, and walked right into it. I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made for developing that space (and personally I don’t give a damn about the view question), but he sure didn’t make it. He came off as classist — there’s too much subsidized housing downtown, not enough that “people like me” can buy (as an aside to the aside: what makes him think he could afford one of the proposed townhouses?) — and high-handed. That got highlighted when Mark Derricott asked him a “philosophical” question, and he responded in part by saying we don’t live in a representative democracy. I’d like to think he got that sort of backwards: we don’t live in a direct democracy, but (in theory) a representative one, in which we elect people to make decisions for us. But wow…his actual response just about set the room on fire. Thankfully, C spoke up quite loudly from off in the corner of the room, and suggested that since this was the last candidate of the evening, perhaps we should break for snacks and one-on-one conversation.

I think in a way, Sermonti is the perfect anti-Joe Hyer candidate, because if there had been a good articulation for developing the isthmus, Joe would have voted for it. But, the way it was, there was a lot of passion in the against column, a few people who really wanted it but couldn't communicate why in a way that made sense. And, people like Elaine and I that thought it might not be a bad idea, but never heard a great argument.


...but when she rattled off a list of issues she wanted to tackle, she mentioned making parking in downtown free again. Uh, no. After “listening in” on C’s urban studies classes, I think free parking is pretty much the last thing we need. (See the work of Donald Shoup for details, or Google for “high cost of free parking.”) I wasn’t entirely sure I heard her correctly, so I visited her site a couple of days later and yes, she does want to making parking free in downtown. So my somewhat eccentric reasoning leads me to support Joan Machlis — who wasn’t there, but it was the first night of her MPA classes, so I understand.

It surprised me that I never really considered voting for Roe. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I never really heard anything from her. At one point I was just getting the impression that she was hoping for her opposition to the isthmus development to carry to her over the line. Joan Machlis, on the other hand, always seemed to have clearly articulated positions (some of which I'll admit I don't agree with), but communicated to me at my level.

Its hard to say that I chose a candidate based on their website, but that's basically what I'm saying. I could agree with Joan on a lot of issues and she communicated like it mattered.

Anyway, to get back to Elaine's point about parking, it seems like Roe picked one more surface issue that actually has deep implications to push her over the line. No serious person who understood the city's approach to parking downtown would suggest free parking. By even approaching it shows that she's willing to take a cheap position to score points.


Elaine said...

Thanks -- it was an interesting experience. I wish I'd gotten my thoughts out sooner, since I imagine I'd've remembered more.

Anonymous said...

I haven't browsed through your site in order to attempt to determine your political leanings but regardless, you hit the nail on the head.

I too am simply looking for candidates that understand the issues well enough to be able to effectively communicate their positions.

In grade school we were taught that you didn't truly understand the meaning of a word unless you could describe the definition to someone else. I wish more of our elected leaders were so well versed as opposed to so verbose.

einmaleins said...

if you chose Machlis over Roe based on their website, I am happy ;-)

Rob Richards said...


I'm pretty sure he was referring to content, not layout! Nice try though!

einmaleins said...

Rob: hehehehe!