Monday, May 14, 2007

"He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny " - Tracy Flick, "Election"

Tomorrow Pittsburgh holds its 2007 primary election. (Post Gazette coverage and endorsements here.)


H and I have been fairly involved in one campaign, Patrick Dowd’s, for District 11 City Council seat. Mr Dowd, who has been effective on the Pittsburgh Public Schools school board and would be a forward-thinking City Council member, who has displayed much integrity and intelligence, runs against Len Bodack, the incumbent, and a party hack. Mr Bodack has been nearly invisible this race – no website, few public appearances, certainly no debates even though Mr Dowd challenged him to one early on, and repeated his desire for a public debate several times. In addition, he seems to think that Lawrenceville is the only neighborhood in the district that matters – news for you, Mr Bodack – Highland Parkers and Morningsiders and Stanton Heights’ers are part of your constituency as well.

Mr Bodack has out-and-out called Mr Dowd a liar (in capitals and boldface!) in campaign mailers; however, to be evenhanded, this was in response to Mr Dowd’s insinuations that Mr Bodack is corrupt, that money has changed hands or been promised in some shady ways. (Is this true? I don’t know, but in truth, it would not surprise me. The Pittsburgh political machine is well-known for its old-boy cronyism. Our incumbent mayor is a decent example.) So yes, both candidates could have taken a higher road, but my vote goes without dispute or second thought to Mr Dowd. (Whom, in the interest of full disclosure, is someone I personally know and respect, and consider a friend.)


The school board race is the one that, as a parent of a child in the public schools, most concerns me. Stephanie Tecza is running against Heather Arnet. What first concerned me about Tecza is that she was one of three candidates up for endorsement from the District 2 School Board Coalition; each candidate agrees that, whomever the Coalition endorses, the others will drop out of the race and support the chosen candidate, thus ensuring community’s political support for the candidate deemed best. The Coalition endorsed Ms Arnet and Ms Tecza decided to run anyway. Her reason, that the Coalition “did not reflect the diversity” of the district is neither here nor there: she knew coming in who comprised the Coalition; her decision to fly in the face of this pledge and run anyway demonstrates a lack of integrity and commitment.

In addition, she is running on the platform that the district does not do enough for special ed kids (she has two children, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome). As the parent of three typical children, perhaps I am being insensitive, but I would like the school board to worry less about a particular group of students and focus on balancing the budget and providing a decent education for all its students. I think that a special-interest-biased member at this point in the board’s history will cause unnecessary disruption and short-sightedness. What we need is what Ms Arnet offers: “ I think the last few years have brought increased accountability and also a very strategic focus on increasing student achievement.” … she wants to help that agenda move forward.
My vote goes to Ms Arnet.


Other races I am keeping an eye on include that of Controller: Doug Shields is a fine guy, but I would like to keep him on City Council where he has done a great job, and where perhaps he and Mr Dowd can work well together to help this city live up to its potential. He is running unopposed for his council seat. His opponent for controller is Michael Lamb, which is who I will be voting for. It’s not that we don’t like you, Mr Shields! We just like you where you can do the most good, on the City Council.


I will be voting for Jack McVay, Joe Williams, and Michael McCarthy for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.


I don’t know what to say about Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. I don’t like him, but that’s more of a gut reaction than any sort of studied, intelligent political decision.
I was living on the North Side when he ousted Barbara Byrnes for City Council, running and winning in that staunchly Democratic neighborhood on his name (or rather, his father’s and grandfather’s name). He was elected President of City Council as a compromise candidate among rival factions and upon Mayor O’Connor’s unexpected illness and death last year, he ascended to the position of Mayor. There was some debate after Mayor O’Connor’s death as to whether there must be an election for the new mayor; the law is ambiguous, and some argued that the mayoral term does not expire till 2009; as it turns out, it doesn’t matter - his election is a formality, as he is running unopposed.


Tomorrow is 2007 primary election day.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m.
Go vote.
And if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.

1 comment:

Sarah Louise said...

Great voter's guide, BB! I don't even try to understand politics, but you really distilled this down. I was wondering about the School District thing, since I only JUST got wind of a second person running yesterday.

Off to GE to get more Zicam so that I won't be sneezing on all the nice voters tomorrow...