I Am Voting For Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey for City Council
Last week, the Carbondaze Gazette reported that Mayor Joel Fritzler sent an email to supporters endorsing Jessica Bradshaw, Carolin Harvey, Jerrold Hennrich, and Blaine Tisdale for city council, and asking supporters to vote for three from that list. This weekend, Council Member Jane Adams sent an email to supporters naming six candidates (Lee Fronabarger, Carolin Harvey, Navreet Kang, Brent Ritzel, Jessica Bradshaw, and Tony Holsey) as “worthy of your consideration.” Adams noted that her list was specifically not an endorsement.
Two candidates appear on both lists: Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey. Coincidentally, I am planning to vote for both candidates. I’ll explain why below. I’ll also name the candidates I am considering for my third vote, and I’ll explain why I rejected the candidates I am no longer considering.
I wrote a lot about the 2011 election, but I haven’t had time to cover this one at all. I have been following the election, though, and I’ve given careful thought to which candidates I should vote for. I have changed my mind during the course of the campaign based on the performance of the candidates, which I believe is an indication that I have approached this election with an open mind. First let’s look at the two candidates I have decided to vote for. I’ll follow the practice I used last time and bold each candidate’s name the first time I mention him or her.
The Candidates I am Voting For
Jessica Bradshaw ran for city council in 2011 and, as I said at the time, I did not vote for her. At the beginning of this election season I didn’t expect to vote for Bradshaw, but her platform and understanding of the issues have improved so dramatically in the last two years that fairness compelled me to consider her. I was impressed with her performance in both the League of Women Voters candidate forum and the Arbor District forum. For the last year, I have served with her on the board of a local organization, and as a result I’ve had the chance to have several substantive conversations on city issues with her. I am convinced that she will make a good Council Member. If I only had one vote instead of three, Bradshaw would get it. View her platform at her website.
Carolin Harvey is getting my second vote. The city recently completed a revision of its zoning code, and regular readers know that I am keenly interested in zoning issues. The zoning revision involved the Planning Commission, of which Carolin Harvey is chair, and it is in that capacity that I am most familiar with her. In her role as chair of the Planning Commission, Ms. Harvey showed an ability to run a meeting and an open minded approach to the issues. She also demonstrated an even tempered disposition, which is important in a city council person. I am also impressed with Ms. Harvey’s record of public service during her long tenure in Carbondale.
The Candidates I am Considering for my Third Vote
Lee Fronabarger is the only incumbent running this year. Unlike most incumbents, however, Fronabarger can’t campaign for reelection, because he was appointed to fill Mayor Fritzler’s council seat after the 2011 election. The appointment was moderately controversial at the time because Fronabarger, as a council candidate in 2011, finished near the back of the pack. I’ve always liked Fronabarger’s positions on the issues – in fact, I voted for him in the primary in 2011, although I didn’t vote for him in the general election because I did not view him as a contender. The power of incumbency is strong, however, and Fronabarger does have a chance at being elected this time. I am still considering him. His website is http://ourtowncarbondaleil.blogspot.com/
Navreet Kang is a business owner and a member of the planning commission. I like the three main planks of his platform (Economic Revitalization and Business Development, A Safer and Cleaner Carbondale, A Greener and Diverse Carbondale). I did not agree with several of his recent votes on the Planning Commission, especially his vote against reducing the side setbacks on small lots. I also do not agree with his positions on the Oakland Auto Shop. Like Fronabarger, I initially intended to vote for Mr. Kang. I’ve already settled on Bradshaw and Harvey, so I can’t vote for both Fronabarger and Kang. I’ll have to decide, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. You can view Kang’s website at http://navreetkangforcitycouncil.com/
The Candidates I am Not Considering Voting For
I want to eliminate a couple of candidates right away. William Graham and Luke Adams will be listed on the ballot, but they haven’t attended any campaign events or returned any candidate surveys or questionnaires. They cannot be considered active candidates and I am not considering voting for them.
Similarly, although Karim Abdullah and Pepper Holder both attended the League of Women Voters forum, and Holder attended the Arbor District forum, neither returned their surveys to the Carbondale Times. If they are not serious enough to write the 250 word response and accept the free publicity, they aren’t serious enough to get my vote. (Fun fact: the first time I heard the name Barack Obama was in August of 2003 when he was being interviewed on WDBX by Pepper Holder.)
Tony Holsey would be a good council member. He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and is a business owner and minister. I thought his performances at the League of Women Voters forum and the Arbor District forum showed competence. I would not be disappointed if Mr. Holsey wins. The only reason I’ve dropped him from consideration is that there are other candidates whose platforms more closely mirror my own interests.
Jerrold Hennrich is a law student at SIUC. Unlike most student candidates, however, Hennrich does own a home in Carbondale. That makes him as permanent a resident as Carbondale has. Hennrich ran for council in 2011, and I didn’t consider voting for him because he didn’t seem to have any ideas for Carbondale. His candidacy this year has the same problem it had last time: lack of vision. I expect a candidate to have an agenda and to be able to articulate it. I can’t tell you what Hennrich’s agenda is, so I am not going to vote for him.
Blaine Tisdale is a law student at SIUC. We always have a few student candidates and, as I will explain below, I don’t automatically eliminate student candidates from consideration. Tisdale does have some good ideas, but I decided that he doesn’t have the long term ties to the city that a member of council should have. I hope he will run again if he stays in Carbondale after graduation, but I just couldn’t vote for him this time.
Brent Ritzel, who ran for mayor in 2011, is a full-time MPA student at SIUC. He is running as a student candidate with the goal of being the first student elected to the city council. Many people in Carbondale flatly refuse to vote for a student. I am not one of them. I will consider a student candidate who is at least in his or her late twenties and who has permanent ties to Carbondale. Ritzel, who is in his forties, is old enough to receive my consideration and, although he is not a homeowner, Ritzel was born and raised in Carbondale, giving him the permanent ties I need to see in order to consider a student candidate.
Ritzel has a lot of signs up, which many people consider a measure of support. I’d caution against using lawn signs as a measure of support, as candidates sometimes get the agreement of landlords to allow signs to be posted on their properties. Also, by creatively placing multiple signs on a single lot, a candidate can create the appearance of greater support than he or she actually has. Still, because Ritzel has a real chance of winning, I think it is worthwhile to explain at some length why I am not considering voting for him.
Here’s what I said about Ritzel during his 2011 mayoral run:
…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 stand by those remarks today. Furthermore, I have watched Ritzel speak at several city council meetings and my impression is that his temperament would not be an asset to the council. Carbondale needs people who can work together to solve our problems; we don’t need bomb throwers.
Finally, Ritzel did not bother to return the Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association candidate questionnaire — this despite the fact that he is on the board of that organization (as am I). If he can’t be bothered to return a questionnaire to an organization in which he himself holds a leadership role, then I can’t be bothered to vote for him.
I’ll have a links post up on Tuesday linking to all the coverage of this year’s campaign.
Comments are welcome.