Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Say Goodbye to Nonpartisan City Elections

You just thought the election was over. No, in our era of perpetual elections, there's always another election just around the corner. In our case, it's the Richardson City Council election of May, 2011. Today, we hear the starting pistol for that race sound in a story by Ian McCann in The Dallas Morning News. The candidates in the race are likely to be wearing team uniforms this time.

After the jump, an early look at the partisan outlines of the race.

On one side, we have the Richardson Coalition PAC, the pro-business, pro-development, pro-Chamber of Commerce political action committee whose candidates swept the 2009 City Council election. On the other side, we have the new challenger, the Richardson Citizens Alliance PAC, the anti-tax, anti-development, Tea Party-inspired political action committee who wants to make the election about taxes and spending (as anticipated here).

The Richardson Citizens Alliance PAC hasn't yet named any candidates it will be supporting. Perhaps the names quoted in The Dallas Morning News story will end up running.

John DeMattia is reported to believe that the city shouldn't have a new recreation center and swimming pool at Heights Park nor a long-term lease on UT-Dallas land on which to build a water tower and soccer fields. Instead, the city should limit itself to filling potholes.

Darrell Day is reported to be inspired by the Tea Party's successes in November's national and state elections. You may remember Darrell Day as the man who blew off concerns by the Native American Chamber of Commerce that the neighborhood name "Reservation" is offensive to many Native Americans. According to Day, "What is an Indian reservation? It's simply land that was reserved for the American Indians." Let's hope he has a better grasp on other civic issues than he has on history.

E.A. "Mac" McDowell is reported to have said that the Richardson Citizens Alliance PAC started planning after the bond election was over. That suggests the new PAC is the old anti-bond faction. That bond passed easily (although with a smaller margin than other recent bond elections). Apparently, the new PAC is not reconciled to the will of the voters in that election and thinks that it can change the voters' minds next time.

My own take on the performance of 2009-2011 city council can be read here. I considered it one of the most responsive and productive city councils in my memory. It delivered on the main issues of the 2009 election, government transparency and Richardson revitalization.

  • Open and transparent government initiatives
    • Televising city council meetings
    • Code of Ethics for City Council members
    • Online checkbook for the city
  • Bond program for streets, parks, municipal buildings
  • Progress on West Spring Valley corridor redevelopment
  • Progress on Bush Station development

Now we'll all see whether the anti-tax fervor that swept the nation in 2010 can sustain an anti-incumbent local election in Richardson in 2011. It'll all play out in the most partisan election in Richardson's recent history.

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