Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Now that we have the questionnaires published, I wanted to talk about who I will be voting for.
I come from a voting family; my mom took me right when I was 18 to register, and I remember her voting, including in local Selectmen races in our rincky dink little New Hampshire town. I suppose she was a very big influence on me that way. Except, she was always very mum on who she voted for. I think, for her, it’s a private matter to keep to one’s self.
I’ve never felt quite that way about it, and especially since getting active in politics myself, I find myself wanting to talk about who I’m voting for and more importantly, why. Maybe no one cares who I’ll be checking off on my ballot on Tuesday. I don’t know. But if I want certain candidates to win, I’ve got to talk about them, don’t I? So skip to the flip and I’ll go over my ballot…I guess call them personal endorsements.
One thing I look for in a candidate for any office is the ability to look at a decision logically. Too many of (especially local) pols decide how they are going to feel about an issue before getting to the chamber. Now, there’s believing in a principle, like our country cannot slash funding for the poor because it’s both societal suicide and immoral. Then there’s kneejerk reactions (even with liberals) that all programs are alike and need to be protected. Of course, if there’s a better way to achieve the desired outcome (say, bringing people out of poverty) than the current course, we should change the system. (This is not to say, that there is any evidence at all that merely slashing funding and kicking the poor off of assistance will help anyone “bootstrap” - and plenty of evidence that this will fail).
On the local level, despite what a certain faction would say about me, I’m looking for someone who truly is for professional city management. I’m not looking to supplant the old GOB (good ol’ boys) with a new set (my friends). If someone that I support starts doing that, they are going to get a good public raking over the coals.
That said, I suppose from “the other side’s” point of view, forming my own coterie is exactly what I’m all about. They can’t picture someone who operates any differently than them. That’s fine. That’s why we have these debates publicly, and you can decide for yourselves who you think is right.
OK, so back to my voting list. Here it is:
Incumbants (I’ll get back to the why in a minute):
On incumbents, Bill Martin is self-explanatory. Vesna Nuon as well. I am a fan of both of their votes, their common sense, and Nuon in particular has shown himself unafraid to stand up for his point of view, cutting through the craziness which has punctuated this last Council, which I admire. Martin is an island of smart and calm (and I still think he should be Mayor again!).
Joe Mendonca is a little bit of a different animal for me. He is, of course, a Republican, and believes very different from me on more statewide and national issues. He also has voted against and answered no on a contract for the CM position. However, when it comes to local governing, which has much less control over revenues and spending amounts and more control on how money gets spent, his conservative outlook can be really useful, he’s interested in getting the best bang for our taxpayer buck, and of course, he’s full of common sense and doesn’t brook the bull—t that has plagued our politics ever since Cox was ousted. I worry a little bit about the CM contract, since we lose Lynch (or anyone of his caliber) if he isn’t protected by a reasonable contract, but on being Lynch’s boss, he’s good.
Challengers…Stacie Hargis is great, smart, trained in matters of economic development (graduating from the excellent UML Regional Economic and Social Development (RESD) program). There could be no better person to help further innovate Lowell’s renaissance. She has vision and knowledge which we need. I knew when she jumped into the race that I’d probably vote for her.
Jim Milinazzo, I think we all know pretty well. He’s always stood against the GOB and has a record to rest on there. He also was the only incumbent I endorsed in my very first election cycle as a blogger - because as I moved about different circles, attending events both in the arts and social justice arenas, he was one of the only sitting Councilors whose face I saw consistently. It shows commitment, but also means he gets out of the bubble and sees what’s going on in the city.
Derek Mitchell is an exciting candidate with a great background, particularly UTEC. I love UTEC. He has a very wide perspective culturally, and great ideas. If he gets elected I look forward to seeing what policies he brings to the table.
Van Peck seems like he’s all over the place, lately. He has a nice young energy, and has developed and learned as a candidate over the last couple of cycles. I think he’d make a great addition to the Council, not only for his cultural perspective but also, he’s from South Lowell. Let’s face it. South Lowell doesn’t get any love! He understands the arts (something I find lacking sometimes in our Councils, despite all the self-back-patting about our “creative economy”) and I think he’d be a good asset on the Council. The only thing I disagree with is his “no” answer to a CM contract but he expressed a desire to negotiate with the current CM when it comes time. (It seems contradictory but when you face losing the current CM or keeping him and going with a contract, a person who generally doesn’t like the idea of a CM contract might, in that case, vote to have one.) He’s for chickens.
Bill Samaras - so here’s a name I never thought I would check off on my ballot. I’ve had problems in the past - an impression of a dispute between him and former Superintendent of Lowell Schools Karla Brooks Baehr, and former SC member Faticanti creating havoc with that. My understanding was that there were changes Karla wanted to effect at the high school and Samaras resisted. I don’t know more detail than that, but I was prepared to write him off.
However, on a lot of the issues that I think are the most important (touchstones like chickens notwithstanding) he believes the same way I do. And because cool things like chickens are not even possible if we go back to the way we used to do business in this city, Bill Samaras has earned my vote.
That’s eight votes. I probably will end there, and leave my ninth one blank. You might wonder, why did some of these others not make the cut? I don’t want to get too far into it, but who not to vote for might be as important as who to vote for, sometimes…
The obvious ones I would never vote for: Fred Doyle, Rodney Elliot, Ed Kennedy, Rita Mercier, or Matt Viera. No explanation necessary from me, I think, right?
The unknowns or not-ready-for-prime-timers include: Genevieve Doyle, Rick Mistiano, Darius Mitchell, and Brandon Navom. Rick did return a questionnaire but it didn’t make me change my mind in any way, that’s for sure.
I can’t vote for Corey Belanger, because there are too many indications of business-as-used-to-be and while I’m sure he’s a good businessman and nice guy, his outlook and mine do not mesh. For one thing, under the “if you had to hire a new City Manager, what would you look for” question, Belanger begins with “For starters, I think there should be a residency requirement for the next manager.” This underlines a fundamental misunderstanding of the position - you will not necessarily find the best qualified candidate in Lowell. The pool of people who can do this job at the level Lowell requires do not include politicians like Pangy, for instance. When you hear “hire a Lowellian for CM” that should set off a red freaking flag. And if you require the next City Manager, if he lives outside of Lowell, to MOVE to Lowell, that is also stupid. So if a really qualified candidate lives in southern NH and has kids in school and owns a house, you’re gonna tell him that he has to uproot his family to take the job? Yeah that’ll attract lots of resumes. Not.
I don’t think I can give a vote to Erik Gitschier. I’m a little disappointed he’s running while there’s still so much to do at the Greater Lowell Tech.
John Leahy I sometimes think is over his head being a Councilor. Wicked nice guy, really he is, but…I would love that seat to go to someone like Stacie instead.
Marty Lorrey - now there’s a sticky wicket. I like Marty too, personally, and there’s room on the Council for a small-picture guy who gets ice rinks made and potholes filled. However…I’m sorry, but you cannot try to please everyone all the time and give cover to people like Rodney Elliot and expect to make me happy. I respect Vesna Nuon so much more for putting it on the line and yeah, some groups of people don’t like him. They’re the right groups to have mad at you in my opinion, but at least he stands up for common sense and fact-based governing. When you hem and haw and try to play all sides, even when it’s plain that the facts say one thing and Elliot says another, you wind up pleasing no one. Marty’s voting record is OK, but without a questionnaire and knowing where he stands on a contract for the City Manager (since he has not had to vote on such), I can’t vote for him.
Dan Rourke seems to have a lot of signs, but he backed by Rep. Tom Golden. ‘Nuff said. No way would I vote for someone whose allegiance might be with loyalty to friends rather than the facts sitting before him. That’s how GOBs get power. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I have no idea who’ll be whispering in his ear.
So there you go. My ballot in a not-so-nutshell. Feel free to take this opportunity to list your ballot and the whys in comments!
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