Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Impressions of the Candidates

The May 14 Richardson City Council election has 14 candidates for 7 seats. That's a lot of candidates to learn about. So, let's get started. Here are my first impressions of the candidates. I know that first impressions are often wrong. But they can be hard to shake, so it's best that the candidates be aware of the crazy ideas about them that are out there. Let's just say this is a public service to help candidates shape their campaign message to overcome false impressions. That's it -- a public service.

After the jump, let's get busy with first impressions.

  • Place 1
    • Bob Townsend: He's the incumbent. He's been around since forever. I can't tell you anything he's taken the lead on, but he seems like a good follower, usually voting with the majority, so if you like the way Richardson is run, he's your man. Given that two other long-time council members are retiring, Townsend could provide the institutional memory needed to keep the next council from repeating earlier mistakes.
    • William Gordon: He's spent the last few years suing the city over, of all things, a process issue about how the council conducts its meetings. And, to top it off, the issue in question was made moot a few years ago when the voters approved a change to the city charter. This isn't a background that suggests Gordon works well with others.
  • Place 2
    • Mark Solomon: He's a first term council member who may have lost some District 2 voters over some NIMBY issues in the district. He voted with the majority on most issues, but led on nothing that I know of.
    • John DeMattia: He makes a darn good pizza. Also has the experience working on city commissions to qualify him for city council. He opposed the 2010 bond package, which included money for parks and rec centers and a new fire station, among other things. So, if you don't want Richardson to have those things, he might be your man.
  • Place 3
    • Scott Dunn: Years ago, he coached my son's T-ball team. My son turned out all right, so there's that. What's not to like?
    • Darrell Day: Destiny DeLaRosa reported today that Day dropped out of the race and she later posted his announcement. It's just as well that he's out. I have more questions about him than he could hope to dispel in one election campaign.
  • Place 4
    • Laura Maczka: She got the endorsement of Gary Slagel the day he announced he was stepping down from the council. So, if you like the way Mayor Slagel ran the city, she's your woman. She has experience serving on city boards and on various PTA and RISD organizations, so she sounds very qualified for city council.
    • Karl Voigtsberger: Never heard of him.
  • Place 5
    • Kendal Hartley: He's a real estate appraisal company owner. That's all I know. So, I assume he's aligned with business interests and supports growth and development. Oh, and I think he's been on some city board or commission. That's a start. I'm a firm believer that people who want to run the show should work in the ranks a while first.
    • Dennis Stewart: Former one-term council member defeated in 2009 by Amir Omar, about whom he said a few unfriendly things. Interestingly, he has chosen not to challenge Omar this time around. I'd like to hear why. As a private citizen, he took a NIMBY attitude on a plan to build a senior living center in the Richardson panhandle. So, we know he can say no, but I don't remember any accomplishments during his prior term on the council. And his 2009 election campaign still rankles.
  • Place 6
    • Steve Mitchell: He's got something going for him, as he's drawn no opposition for two elections in a row. He seems to walk the line between being an establishment yes-man and a NIMBY malcontent. Makes everyone think he's just like them, I guess. That's good ... for a politician's career.
  • Place 7
    • Amir Omar: The surprise winner two years ago against incumbent Dennis Stewart. He's a first-class schmoozer, showing up everywhere. He's always working on big ideas, or at least he tells us he is. His computer keyboard has extra exclamation marks for easy typing. One program making a very visible change to Richardson, Tree the Town, was his idea. He'll be tough to beat this year, for good reason. I just hope he's dropped his ill-considered idea to offer a senior property tax freeze.
    • Diana Clawson: She prides herself on fighting a plan by Walmart to build a store on Jupiter Road in Richardson. Now look, I don't much care for Walmart, either, but if you don't like Walmart, don't shop there. Don't appeal to government to do your dirty work for you. Besides, Richardson could have used those sales tax dollars that people from Garland would have crossed Jupiter Road to spend in Richardson.
    • Alan North: Never heard of him.

OK candidates, you have more forums coming up than I can count in order to dispel my false first impressions of you. Get to it.

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