Politicking rules the day online, too, but assuming local blogger David Chenoweth is serious when he says he's confused about what people really mean, let me try to help. He doesn't name whom he means by "one of her supporters," but for argument's sake, let's say he means me:
It is interesting to see how a campaign plays out.
No doubt by now, you have probably heard all about the comments Laura Maczka made at a Tea Party meeting. Laura stated that we are now an inner city and reinforced that statement with saying "We are no longer the suburb to the north."
She went on and then said "The demographics are going to demand that we make the changes. I think one of the biggest areas we are going to see the change is definitely going to be in housing. You know that word multi-family is something that is hard to swallow. And so I think more and more as we have lower economics folks moving in we are going to be able to have more affordable housing".
Her supporters are claiming she didn't really mean what she said. Interesting things seem to have developed from that. One of those supporters seems to now be at odds with what he wants Richardson to be. He wants Richardson to be urban big time, with stack 'em and pack 'em ruling the town. But in defense of his chosen candidate, he is saying she really doesn't want more apartments, which is in fact what he wants, high density. He is using her campaign literature to show Laura really didn't mean what she actually said. His endorsement seems to conflict with what he claims he wants.
So it can be confusing what people really mean.
Source: Just My 2 Cents Worth.
Always obliging, I'll try to clear up the confusion, at least regarding my own meaning. After the jump.
Full disclosure: I endorsed Laura Maczka. But that does not mean I agree with everything she's said and done. I certainly don't agree with some of what her supporters, specifically the Richardson Coalition PAC, have said and done. So, when I attempt to understand what Maczka meant at that tea party forum, that's all I'm doing, trying to understand. I am not saying I necessarily agree with her.
OK, on to the substance. It's simply false to say Richardson is an "inner city." It's false to say Richardson is "no longer the suburb to the north." Yet Laura Maczka did say those things. Why? Well, she hasn't explained. Maybe clues can be found in the question she was asked or in the rest of her answer. But I haven't heard those. The full tape hasn't been released. It's sometimes difficult to understand what another person means in the best of times. Having only a 30 second sound bite to go on makes it almost impossible.
What I don't believe is that Maczka said what she did because she believes the statements are literally true. More likely it was some kind of gaffe. It happens. I thought from the first that she was probably trying to emphasize that Richardson is not the commuter suburb it was 50 years ago and she simply went too far in making this obvious point. She did correct herself, saying in a campaign email, "When it comes to apartments, you know that Laura has always said we do not need more apartments near our neighborhoods. Period."
Even though I still wish she would have explained her odd wording during the forum, I understand why she might not. Omar is busy making stuff up about what she meant, stuff that contradicts what she has said elsewhere. His supporters are locked onto a couple of sentences she said at a forum, ignoring everything else she says on the subject. It's unfortunate Omar has gone down this path, as he himself was the victim of people taking seemingly damning passages from court documents and misrepresenting them to put him in a bad light.
What about Maczka's statement that Richardson's demographics are changing? Well, she's facing facts there. As the city has grown and aged, it's become more urban and more diverse -- in age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic makeup. In the Richardson school district, "there are a lot of students struggling in poverty." 58% qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. That's the RISD, but many of those live in the city of Richardson. Wanting to keep poor people out of Richardson isn't dealing with the world as it is. Poor people are already among us. They need affordable housing, and that often means apartments.
The question is what are the policy implications of our situation? Here's where I differ from both of our candidates for mayor. Omar sees a campaign opportunity in abandoning Richardson's poorer residents, or at least their need for "affordable housing." Maczka counters this by walking back her words at the tea party forum and reiterating her own opposition to apartments. I am left disappointed by both candidates. I support serving *all* of Richardson's citizens. I support ensuring that housing in Richardson is safe, maintained and, yes, some of it affordable for all of our citizens. And I'm willing to talk about it. But then I'm not running for mayor.
Now, as for me wanting "Richardson to be urban big time, with stack 'em and pack 'em ruling the town." Well, I guess, kinda. Not all of Richardson, though. And not apartments. More like mixed-use development concentrated around DART stations and along highways. I'd leave Dumont alone. :-) Like I explained before, growth is going to happen whether we want it or not. Simple economics are driving the changes to a more urban form for Richardson. I want to see Richardson get it right. So, what's the right way to do it? That question deserves serious discussion. Arguing over who is more anti-apartment isn't serious discussion. Placing door hangers promoting oneself as "Protecting Richardson from more apartments" isn't serious discussion. Maybe Omar doesn't mean it. But he seems too busy scoring political points to tell us what he really means. And Maczka seems too busy avoiding Omar's attack ads to tell us what she really means.
In the end, I can't say for sure what other people mean. But I hope I've explained a little better what I mean. And I'm not in agreement with what either candidate is saying as their campaigns go ever deeper into the muck. One of these candidates will end up winning, but Richardson is the loser already.