One out of Seven

Dear Readers,

Good thing we have that Instant Runoff Voting system to settle multi-candidate elections! It will really come in handy this November!!

No, Dear Readers, election day will be a good day to stay in bed and watch old movies, unless you live in Ward 3. That’s right, even though the mayor and two city councilmembers have stepped down (one to run for mayor) there is only ONE contested seat.

That’s how it came out at the October 2 Takoma Park Nominating Caucus, where candidates were officially registered, nominated, and seconded for the upcoming city election.

Bruce Williams, Ward 3 representative for another few months, is currently toasting his mayoral ascension in the nearest smoke-filled room, as no one stepped forward to challenge him. Newcomer Josh Wright is probably with Williams right now raising a glass to his own unopposed victory for Ward 1 representative. All the other wards will keep their incumbent councilmembers.

Ward 3, where people know that an election is a contest between at least two candidates, dad gum it, will see a race between gray-bearded Dan Robinson, longtime city activist and businessman, and un-bearded Bridget Bowers, an eager vessel of fresh blood, according to her nominator, brown-bearded Warren Holmes.

Mr. Holmes has the distinction of being the only speaker at Takoma Park’s Nominating Caucus to criticize, even indirectly, an opponent. Perhaps all the other speakers were unaware that there are SUPPOSED to be opponents in local elections and that those elections offer voters a choice between different ideas and people. Sadly, of course, in 6 out of 7 cases this is not the case.

Strategically casting Ms Bowers inexperience in city politics as an asset, Mr. Holmes touted her “new perspective,” and “fresh blood,” saying that new ideas and solutions are needed. HIs candidate was not only a leader who will take action and finish what she starts, she has a “shoulder you can cry on,” he said. As a nominator who understands the game, he managed to imply that her opponent has the opposite traits, and is “mired in the past.”

Unfortunately, in doing so he took a rhetorical path that led from explaining how he recently moved to Takoma Park, where his parents settled in 1968, because he embraced the values of their generation, to exhorting the voters not to be “stuck in the past.” But, never mind, he threw down the gauntlet, and that’s the important thing.

Ms. Bowers team won in the Gauntlet Throwing, but was a no-show in the Celebrity Fielding, and fatally weak in the Seconder Herding. She had only one serious seconder to her nomination, and neither nominator nor seconder were well-known, beloved, or connected activists, politicians, or residents.

Her opponent Dan Robinson may have won the Celebrity Fielding event with beloved longtime resident Belle Ziegler (who IS the Independence Day Parade). It’s hard to say, certainly Josh Wright is a contender with his celebrity Heather Mizeur, Maryland State Delegate and one-time city councilmember.

Dan also had TWO nominators, and five seconders, although one of them was Nellie Moxlie who also seconded Bowers just to be fair, so she sort of cancels herself out.

Dan’s seconders reflected his influence and interests. He’s been involved in various local commercial, nonprofit, and governmental projects for over two decades. He was a cofounder of the Takoma Voice, has been involved with the charitable Takoma Foundation, the Street Festival, Sustainable Takoma (play the JAWS music), Sligo Computer Services, the Green Team, The Takoma Zone music cooperative, and many city committees, to name just a few. A representative of the local Green Party seconded Dan, saying that group has endorsed him.

Your Gilbert has the feeling that Ms Bowers is going to get very tired of hearing people sincerely thank her for turning this into a real campaign even though they are voting for Dan. On the other hand, we are reminded of the last serious campaign in Ward 1, where a well-known, well-connected, longtime local activist lost to a young newcomer to city politics, Joy Austin-Lane.

But, then this is just the beginning of the campaign, and there is much door-to-dooring, leafletting, and foruming to come. Speaking of which the Takoma Voice will will sponsor a candidates forum Oct. 14 at the city council chambers 7pm to 9pm. Gee, only two hours, do you think they’ll have time to get all the candidates in?


PS. Spelling of some names above is approximate.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

4 Comments on "One out of Seven"

  1. A reader sent in this comment via e-mail:
    yeah, this election is going to be reeeal exciting – stay tuned, folks!
    I can think of a couple of candidates I oppose, but can’t think of anyone I
    would support in their places
    for me, the big news of the night was the unexplained non-appearance of
    previously announced Ward 6 challenger, Ryan O’Donnell

  2. Another comment via e-mail:
    That kind of turnout is just sad. What happened to one of the most politically active and engaged municipalities in the country?

  3. Lawrence Silberman | October 5, 2007 at 3:35 pm |

    Almost no one wants to be bothered with running the city. Perhaps it is time to put to referendum the question to turn in the City charter. And end duplicate payment for services already provided by the county. Our Property tax bills are already too high. What would you do with your tax savings?

  4. Tom Gagliardo | October 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm |

    How do the incumbents run unopposed when they (1) signed a confidentiality agreement and held a secret meeting with WMATA when EYA first proposed developing the Takoma Metro Station site AND (2) over-over spent on the NONgym AND (3) threatened rent stabilization AND (4)raised their own salaries a month before the election? Must have been their tough stance on Burma.
    Berkeley of the East? Oxnard or Petaluma maybe, but not Berkeley.

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