Takoma Park Fails Gilbert

“Dear” Readers,

Don’t talk to us, don’t LOOK at us, even. We are ticked off!

Takoma Park let us down tonight, it failed to live up to Your Gilbert’s expectations! It did not perform as we predicted. Worse than that – IT COST YOUR GILBERT A DRINK!

We never liked you, Takoma Park, we were lying when we said we did before. We’re moving to some NICE city, a city that appreciates us, that doesn’t make us LOSE CONTESTS! Silver Spring is prettier than you.
Oh, and here are the election results. Like you care.

The numbers are preliminary. They haven’t confirmed all 26 provisional votes and the write-in votes. The curious thing is that while 1728 ballots were issued, there were only 1696 votes cast. Anne Sergeant, chair of the city’s Board of Elections and the chief election judge, said that sometime they get “fleeing ballots” – people who get their ballots but don’t want to wait in line or for some other reason leave before casting them.

Mayoral race: 1618 votes reported cast

Bruce Williams, 967 (60%)

Roger Schlegel, 633 (39%)

Write-ins, 18

Ward 1: 467 ballots

Josh Wright, 422

Ward 2: 274 ballots

Colleen Clay, 223

Ward 3: 483 ballots

Dan Robinson, 381

Ward 4: 215 ballots

Terry Seamens, 182

Eric Mendoza, (write-ins not yet tallied)

Ward 5: 86 ballots

Reuben Snipper, 67

Ward 6: 202 ballots

Navid Nasr, 56 (31%)

Fred Schultz, 125 (69%)

write-in, 1

– Gilbert.

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.

8 Comments on "Takoma Park Fails Gilbert"

  1. Tom Gagliardo | November 4, 2009 at 7:46 am |

    To: Schelgel, Mendoza and Nasr
    The 2011 campaign begins today.

  2. Steve Davies | November 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm |

    Final vote tally:
    Bruce Williams: 1,000 (59.4%)
    Roger Schlegel: 664 (39.5)
    17 write-ins (1.1)
    By Ward
    1 2 3 4 5 6
    Schlegel 146 129 205 87 26 71 664
    Williams 314 140 272 96 57 121 1000
    Quickie analysis: Bruce rode Josh Wright’s broad coattails in Ward 1, but Rog nearly matched Bruce vote-for-vote in wards 2 and 4. Bruce triumphed in his old ward (3), but Rog got close to one-third of his total votes there. In Wards 5 and 6, Bruce beat Roger 178-97.
    Another week or month of campaigning, and who knows the outcome? I think it’s fair to say the results are a wake-up call for Bruce.
    The fancy new equipment is nice, but the city needs to do a better job of publicizing early voting and of helping people get to the polls. If the evening hours are when most people vote, it would make sense to provide transportation for people during that time.
    Final note: The flier Bruce distributed w/ endorsements from four councilmembers (Wright, Clay, Snipper, interim council member Victoria) also included a quote from state Sen. Jamie Raskin, whose election Bruce opposed (he supported Ida Ruben). I’m told that at the very least, Jamie in no way endorsed Bruce. Whether he even authorized use of the quote is a question best put to Bruce and/or Jamie.

  3. Bruce Williams | November 8, 2009 at 8:32 am |

    In response to Steve–Jamie Raskin endorsed me, he took one of my yard signs, and he supplied the quote for my flyer–he knew it was for that flyer.
    Yes, I endorsed Ida Ruben in the 2006 primary, but I didn’t “oppose” Jamie–I had good things to say about him as well. Jamie and I started working together right away, and have worked on many issues, the latest being our efforts to get Montgomery College to reverse it’s recent course of proposing expansion into our residential neighborhood instead of expanding westward as they had earlier promised. We’ve also worked closely on a number of issues like Program Open Space funding, Chesapeake Bay cleanup, and civil marriage.
    Finally, I campaigned hard in Wards 1 and 3, as that is where the most votes are. Yes, Josh is popular in Ward 1, and he was enthusiastic in his support for me. He campaigned hard, even though he was unopposed. Roger brought some issues to the table that need to be addressed, and I am always open to working with anyone on those or other issues. I think I listen pretty well, and I hope that we can all work together to make this a better community.

  4. Steve Davies | November 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm |

    Thanks for the response, Bruce.
    What can I say but mea culpa? I stand corrected on the endorsement issue; I should not have written anything about that without checking with you first.
    The “coattails” remark was really meant tongue-in-cheek, but I didn’t include the little 😉
    I also hope we can make Takoma Park a better community. To that end, I will work hard on the Task Force on Environmental Action (and cease playing amateur pundit) to bring the council some practical recommendations for improving our environment. Please do keep an open mind.
    I’m glad you’re working well with Jamie Raskin, but my recollection of the 2006 race is much different. I don’t specifically recall the positive things you had to say about Jamie. What I do recall was a pre-primary election analysis you sent to Takoma Park listservs. Here’s most of what you said about Jamie and Ida Ruben —
    “Do we really want to replace our powerful State Senator who can do so much for us? If [Raskin] wins, he will be a back-bencher forced to play the outsider role because of his campaign against leadership. Many of his positions may make us feel better, but how effective will he be in getting his initiatives through? I’m afraid that he will get the legislative leadership working against him, and Takoma Park and Montgomery County residents will be the ones to suffer. I think that many county residents don’t appreciate how important it is to be able to play at least two different roles in Annapolis — push great new ideas on the one hand, but be ready to get down in the trenches and fight the tough battles when deals are cut. It also helps to be in a position to help legislators from other areas of the state on their issues so that you can ask them to help you out on yours. Too few of our County legislators pursue that; they feel that others should support our issues because we have made the best arguments or because our position is the most moral one, or because Montgomery County residents pay a big chunk of the state’s taxes so we should get more back. Sometimes its all about having a history with colleagues where you have been there for them.
    “One of Jamie’s issues is making voter registration mandatory for all high school students to graduate. How will this help our kids to be involved and to understand the importance of voting? Plus, if this had been in effect when I graduated from high school, how would I have complied? I didn’t turn 18 until October of my freshman year in college. What about those kids who skip a grade and graduate much earlier than age 18? Why is this progressive?
    “Both the Ruben and the Raskin campaigns have spent too much time in the cry-baby mode, going into who shot John litanies. Do we really care about the details of these various supposed transgressions? I don’t think so. He seems to have a thin skin, which doesn’t bode well for his time as a potential outsider fighting leadership in Annapolis. I also wonder about his position against the death penalty, while being treasurer for all of Doug Gansler’s campaigns for State’s Attorney for Montgomery County. Gansler is a solid proponent of the death penalty.”

  5. Allow us to place this in realpolitik context. Here’s what we had to say Sept. 9, 2006 about then-mayor Kathy Porter’s statement of support for then-Senator Ida Rubin:
    “Dear Readers, squint at the above quote and see if you make out what Gilbert reads between the lines. Does it say something like “We are SO obligated to this notoriously cantankerous, entrenched old bat we don’t dare oppose her in case she wins and takes vengeance on the city.”? If she does win, [Bruce] Williams and Porter may be the only thing standing between our homes and a grannie with a giant flame-thrower.”
    A few days after that was posted, Bruce Williams dropped a hint to us privately that we had correctly analyzed the situation.
    Smart and effective politicians understand these things, and they do not hold grudges or ignore opportunities to make alliances when it is to their mutual benefit. Raskin seems to be one of these.
    The full article, the granolapark 2006 voter’s guide at:

    – Gilbert

  6. Steve Davies | November 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm |

    I can’t really disagree with anything you say, Mr. Gilbert. 2 things, though: If Bruce “dropped a hint to you privately” that your analysis was correct, well, bully for you, and thanks for letting us know now, three years later. But if it was “a few days” after your Sept. 9 analysis, then it was likely AFTER the Sept. 12 primary in which Jamie whomped Ida 2-1.
    Consider this also, dear readers: Politicians (and Raskin is one as well) choose their words carefully depending on the listener to make that listener feel like he or she is one smart cookie.
    Obviously these guys have to work together. I’m glad they are, for the betterment of our community. The fact remains that Bruce didn’t just put his name on a paid advertisement for Ida Ruben, he sent an email to every listserv in Takoma Park that had nothing positive to say about Jamie Raskin, and that criticized some of Raskin’s specific positions. He said he was thin-skinned, and asked rhetorically whether we really wanted to boot from office “our powerful state senator who can do so much for us”? Raskin would be a “back-bencher” and would likely get the leadership working against him, to the detriment of Takoma Park. I’m not sure what political benefit could possibly be derived from doing that at that late date in the campaign, when the writing was on the wall.
    Do zobaczenia, Gil
    P.S. Your “captcha” is a pain in the ass

  7. The captcha is absolutely necessary. The volume of spam that comes in otherwise is overwhelming.
    William’s hint that we understood the situation correctly came before (or maybe on?) the primary. We don’t recall the exact date or number of days.
    The point is that Williams, Porter, and other politicians were erring on the side of caution by endorsing Rubin, and this doesn’t seem to be an issue for Raskin. As Steve says, all these politicians have to work together.

  8. Colleen Clay | November 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm |

    It seems there are a few issues here that are broader themes than just the last senate race.
    One is that the discourse in local politics and even basic community discussions has gotten far too toxic. We seem to have forgotten that we are neighbors discussing local issues. Too much discourse is about tearing down people as well as their efforts at making the community a better place. Rather than putting forth new ideas many sit back and throw verbal tomatos at those who do make such an effort. Some people even make it the M.O. of their blog;-) My partner has suggested to me that this is the hazard of living in a community of policy analysts in the post modern world. Everyone is a deconstructionist, and no one creates anything. I think it is a hazard of living so close to DC, where we often act as if our local neighborhood issue is a battle between Move On and Swiftboat Veterans.
    A second issue is the value of the relationship building that good politicians do in service to their community. This is often little understood by constituents. It is not readily visible and therefore is not a big boon to re-election campaigns, but it pays tremendous dividends to our community. In the case of the senate and house, longevity in office is rewarded with seniority and chairmanships. In local government, it is with leadership in the Maryland Municiple League and the Council of Governments among other things, for those that put the hours into those organizations. These relationships are valuable. There has been a myth put forth in the last few elections, from Seth, to Jamie to Rodger, that somehow these relationships magically accrue to whomever holds the office. This is not the case. Seniority and relationships accrue over time in office. They are valuable to the city. Bruce is on the MML legislative committee, and has been working diligently to get Takoma Park interests at the forefront of the MML legislative agenda. He has been successful. That is just one of many, many things we work on. We have a fire station in Takoma Park entirely because of the relationships that our long-term councilmembers had with the county. Now that is not to say that one shouldn’t vote out longtime representatives who are failing, but the idea that relationships belong to someone by virtue of their title, is not true in local politics. And particularly in Takoma Park, where we have been fortunate to have two recent mayors who have treated the mayor’s role as practically a full-time job, we should not be so ready to dismiss their service. I did not hear a single significant new idea expoused by ANY candidate in this recent election. I see a community that must recognize the limits of what we can afford, and work together to find new ways of achieving our goals in a changing economy. I do see a need for the current council to better communicate the issues and engage the public outside of the election process.
    It seems bizarre to issue a mea culpa and then go on to beat the same dead horse. Jamie Raskin and Bruce Williams work together, and work well, for the betterment of this city. Good politicians are professional about the kinds of issues faced in the senate race discussed above. I didn’t endorse anyone in the Ruben/Raskin race. That was my concession to Kathy Porter when she asked me to endorse Rubin. I stayed neutral. I valued Rubin’s years of service and the position that she held in the senate. I appreciated her work on behalf of Takoma Park. While I am very opposed to the death penalty, her support for it in the case of certain crimes (killing cops) was not a deal killer for me. She was not the tie breaking vote. It is hard to find a politician who supports everything I believe in. But I was very uncomfortable with the idea that other legislators were afraid of Rubin, and that they voted with her on many occasions for fear of the retribution she would exact if she perceived they crossed her. I could talk about this issue more, but I’ll just say that in the end, some of us supported her or stayed neutral to hedge our bets as a city. I was happy for Jamie that he won, and happy for Takoma Park. In the final calculation I think that was an instance where there was a reasonable tradeoff to be made, of experience/access to power, in exchange for a different way of doing business, and new ideas, both of which Jamie brought in abundance. I think even he would admit that there would be some benefit to having seniority. In fact, some day, a new senate candidate will come along, and I fully expect Raskin to argue that his tenure gives him access to power, experience and relationships that just can’t be matched by a newcomer, and he’ll be right on. And I expect Bruce and I will be there to support him, because we understand the value of experience.

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