Ritzel Out, Who I Voted for And Why (Mayoral Edition)
As everyone knows, Brent Ritzel was eliminated from Carbondale’s mayoral race after finishing last in Tuesday’s primary. George Maroney finished first, Joel Fritzler second, Sam Goldman third, Steven Haynes fourth, and Ritzel fifth. The Southern Illinoisan has the exact vote totals on their website.
I had a hard time deciding which mayoral candidate to vote for. Every candidate had at least one idea I agreed with, and each had at least one factor that I considered a drawback. I didn’t feel especially excited about any of them. I eventually decided to vote for Sam Goldman. I’ll explain how I chose Goldman by explaining who I ruled out and why, in the order in which I ruled them out. I’ll post again tomorrow about my votes for city council.
Brent Ritzel: As I’ve mentioned before, Ritzel always seemed to me like the odd man out in this group. His professional experience is different than the other candidates and he lacks elected political experience. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – eclectic experiences bring an eclectic perspective and the public sometimes welcomes political outsiders. And Ritzel had some good ideas, notably the plastic bag tax. But considering the expansiveness of some of his ideas and the limits of his experience, I wasn’t comfortable voting for him for mayor. I eliminated Ritzel from consideration first.
Steven Haynes: I thought Haynes showed understanding of the retail industry when asked about the mall in his WSIU interview. Since retail is one of Carbondale’s three largest economic sectors, so Haynes’ experience as a manager in retail would be useful to a mayor. Haynes also gets a point for his experience on city council, even though I haven’t always agreed with his votes. On the other hand, I didn’t find the platform on his website particularly inspiring. Haynes also lost points because he isn’t able to devote his full energies to the job of mayor. As I’ve mentioned before, I think Carbondale needs a full time mayor, but the job doesn’t pay enough for most working age people to take it full time. Since there are two acceptable retired candidates, I was free to eliminate the candidates with full time jobs.
Joel Fritzler: Like Haynes, Fritzler gets a point for his city council experience. As I’ve mentioned in a series of posts, I didn’t like his behavior in the Lance Jack liquor license controversy. That aside, I’ve agreed with Fritzler’s votes more often than I’ve disagreed with them. He has a good understanding of the city’s budget and he seems to enjoy public service. If the position of mayor was a full time job making $45,000 per year, and if Fritzler pledged to quit his job at SIUC if he were elected, I might have voted for him. But that isn’t the system of government Carbondale has, and there were two acceptable retired candidates, so I eliminated Fritzler.
George Maroney: I am most impressed with George Maroney’s professional experience. Memorial Hospital thrived under his leadership. If the ability to get things done were the only consideration, I’d have voted for Maroney. But we should consider what the candidate wants to do. On some issues, Marnoey seemed out of touch. When asked about downtown development in his WSIU interview he replied, “Norman Rockwell died a long time ago.” That seemed to me like the remark of a person who doesn’t understand the issue. In the same interview, Maroney described the comprehensive plan as a “huggy-feely” document that doesn’t “say very much” to him. I don’t agree. Finally, Maroney seemed like an ideological candidate to me. I don’t think ideology is very useful in small town government because of the inherent constraints on government at that level. Along with his positions on downtown and the comprehensive plan, Maroney’s ideological streak led me to eliminate him.
Sam Goldman: After eliminating every other candidate, I was left with Goldman. I don’t mean to damn him with faint praise. Goldman is very involved in the community. He has a lot of experience with SIU, including a brief time as Chancellor. Like Maroney, I think he understands Carbondale’s economy and some of the obstacles to its growth. Unlike Maroney, he seemed to value downtown and the comprehensive plan. Goldman is retired, so he has plenty of time to devote to public service as mayor.
To me, the main drawback to Goldman’s candidacy is that SIUC continued its enrollment decline while Goldman was Chancellor. On the other hand, I’m not certain how much of the blame for that can be laid at Goldman’s door. Goldman was basically installed as Chancellor, and I think that left him in a weaker position than if he had been chosen after a national search. Some of the problems with enrollment at SIUC are probably beyond anyone’s control. And Goldman was always understood to be a caretaker Chancellor, and I think he did the best that could be expected of him.
That said, I could still be persuaded. I am a strategic voter, and if I decide I’m wasting a vote on Goldman when the real race is between Fritzler and Maroney I will almost certainly shift my support to one of them. Although I eliminated Fritzler before Maroney in this round, Maroney wouldn’t be guaranteed my vote if I do change my mind. I’d have to start all over again and compare them side by side.
Comments are welcome.