I watched the hands on the clock tick toward five o’clock. Once it struck, I knew I had a set number of candidates to research. No sneaking under the gate at the last minute and no wasted energy on my part checking out a candidate who didn’t quality or turn in their nomination signatures.
I have had many who wanted me to weight in on the races but I knew it would be pointless until yesterday was past.
And still, it seems that many hot-button issues are being cleverly blurred so now every candidate can proudly say, as Juan Peron declares in Evita!
“We are all shirtless now! Fighting against our common enemies—“
Of course, that stanza from the play by Andrew Lloyd Weber was meant to drip insincerity and hypocrisy. Such blurring makes it difficulty for the average voter to determine who really means what they say or are just cleverly pandering to the crowd. What does the candidate actually believe and what has been their activities (‘accomplishments’ is a highly interpretive word) in the past? What will they actually do when they get elected based on their past behavior?
All this campaigning and speeches will make it difficult to wean out the answers to all those questions.
To be fair, we need to realize that the candidates do care about the city as a whole, and ward councilors in particular, the special needs of their wards– and thus are approaching all types of issues with the eye to resolve them successfully. And they should – it will make for a healthier city council in the end.
Unfortunately, such good intentions that produce good governance are found in another dimension – let’s call it the seventh dimension. (Bible considers the number seven as the number of perfection.)
In the real world, many, though sincere, are sincerely wrong in their approach. (and will need to be stopped!)
And then there is another stumbling block.
In this real world, there are hot-button questions that will make or break a candidacy – especially in Newburyport:
What is your position on the waterfront?
What is your position on historic preservation?*
And because of much bias, emotion, ideology, misinformation and sloganeering that has been invested already; candidates must step very lightly – much like navigating through a pasture watching closely for cow chips and land mines!
It is increasingly apparent that most candidates will be chosen by camps who focus on a single issue. It will result in one crazy election if we have a low voter turnout. Then the council will be chosen by special interest minorities and will be dysfunctional from the start. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and we have a high number of citizens participating.
As for me, I am a single issue voter. (could you guess from all my posts?)
I will soon give a short list of those who are soundly in the historic preservation camp that will need to be elected if our city is to be preserved and to sustain our high quality of life.
* In the past it was, “What is your position on the senior center?” “What is your position on putting water/sewer on Plum Island?”, “What is your position on the landfill?” I shudder to think that something as inane as plastic bags will end up on that list!