Richardson's city council elections are still five months away. In past elections, that meant that no candidates were doing anything at this stage, in public anyway. That's all changed this year, with voters having approved a city charter amendment calling for direct election of the mayor. That change led to a prediction that elections would get longer and more expensive. Money was going to become more important at the city level, just like it has swamped state and federal elections. That prediction is coming true.
Amir Omar was the first candidate to jump into the race. If anyone thought Omar's early move would cause some other likely candidates to rethink their own plan to run, he was wrong. Laura Maczka has now jumped into the race as well. Whether any other candidates enter the race remains to be seen, but it's not expected that any other council members will run for mayor, including incumbent mayor Bob Townsend.
After the jump, my early thoughts on the race.
Recent elections in Richardson have broken along lines I'll call the establishment versus the insurgents. In 2009 and 2011, the establishment was identified by the endorsements made by the Richardson Coalition PAC. In 2011, the insurgents were identified by the endorsements made by the Richardson Citizens Alliance (RCA) PAC. In both 2009 and 2011, the establishment routed the insurgents by a two to one margin. Both Omar and Maczka had establishment support.
Obviously, something has to change this year. Omar and Maczka can both be considered establishment candidates. A quick look at the endorsements each candidate has obtained already indicates that Maczka has the edge among former city council members. She lists twelve. Omar lists one. It's expected that the Richardson Coalition PAC itself will eventually endorse Maczka. Omar is not quite out in the cold this election, having an impressive number of establishment supporters already, even if the roster of former city council members is tipping Maczka's direction.
Oddly, no current council members have endorsed either candidate. Why so shy? An important duty of the mayor is to preside over council meetings. Shouldn't the other council members tell voters whom they see as best able to lead the council?
What are the issues the campaign will focus on? It's too early to say. Expect Maczka to emphasize the city's generally good current situation and her endorsements that suggest she'll keep things running smoothly. Expect Omar to emphasize his energetic involvement in almost every civic activity going on anywhere in Richardson as well as his ideas for how Richardson can get even better.
Who's favored to win? It's too early to say. Possibly, it'll depend on who runs the better campaign. A single direct mail "voter's guide" from each of two dueling PACs is unlikely to have as much influence on the vote as in previous elections.