I was wondering when the silly season would begin. With filing deadlines for city offices approaching, it seems that it’s finally kicked off in earnest.
The announcements are coming in hot and heavy, from the usual longshot mayoral candidates like James Dewberry and Yusuf “Brother” Shabazz, to the entry of Clara Mae Curry for at-large alderman, to some possible competition for Mary Ellen Sprague in the race for the District 4 council seat.
Here’s the problem: The system we’ve got — whereby city council seats are basically fulltime jobs that only pay $14,500 a year — isn’t working very well. Anyone who can take on the daunting task of city council and still get by on 14 grand a year is usually someone who’s independently wealthy, and hence not representative of most people.
Conversely, if you’re so bad off that 14K a year sounds good to you, you’re also not representative of most people, and frankly need to be kept miles away from the taxpayer-funded feeding trough.
Either way, the bottom line is that our “representative” government is really not very representative.
Case in point: me. I live in Parkside, much of which for some reason isn’t included in aldermanic District 3, but in District 4 along with Ardsley Park. Needless to say, whoever’s campaigning for District 4 rarely bothers to cross Waters Avenue to ask for the votes of little old me and my underrepresented neighbors.
This year, Mary Ellen Sprague, high-profile Ardsley Park socialite, is shooting for the District 4 seat. She’s certainly no dummy and far from the worst representative you could have.
(Creepy side-note: Considering she’s a former school board member and was library board president during a particularly rancorous time, there are suspiciously few Google hits for Sprague. It’s almost like her previous career has vanished. Hmmm.)
But somehow I just don’t see her leaving the ivy-covered bungalows and stuccoed mansions of Junior League Central over there in Ardsley Park to canvass for votes in my diverse, working/middle class precinct.
Sprague definitely isn’t going to come knock on my door if her consultant Dave Simons has his way and she runs unopposed. Simons recently sent an e-mail discouraging everyone he knows from donating money to the potential Sprague-derailing bid of another local Republican, Clint Murphy, aka “Bull Moose” of peachpundit.com.
Ordinarily the beautiful sight of two Republicans viciously chewing each others’ innards out is a deeply satisfying one for me. Unlike Michael Vick’s disgusting hobby, that’s one dogfight I’ll pay to see.
But in this case I have to say it would be best for all of us if another candidate faced Sprague so that she would have to, you know, expend some effort to get the job.
I have no personal issues with Simons, who’s always been unfailingly professional and courteous in his dealings with me. But I think the same thing about Simons that I do about his client Sprague: He could use some competition.
Simons, who has the reputation of being Savannah’s version of Karl Rove, keeps saying he does so much negative campaigning because it works. This is arguable.
First off, his clients have sometimes been beaten by harder-working candidates who don’t go negative. Secondly, we really don’t have enough data to draw any conclusions at all either way, because Simons is one of less than a handful of fulltime political consultants in town.
Anyway, I better stop talking about Simons before he puts out bumper stickers making fun of my name, like he did with Pete Liakakis.
One Republican that might get some competition this election cycle is Jack Kingston, longtime First District representative. Democrat Bill Gillespie, who like Kingston’s last victim Jim Nelson is a U.S. Army veteran, is exploring a candidacy to take on Smilin’ Jack in ‘08.
It’s unfortunate that the new Democratic majority chose not to fund two key projects in Kingston’s district, namely Tybee beach renourishment and replacing the aging Skidaway Narrows bridge. Clearly the right thing to do is to fully fund both.
When Kingston’s party had the majority, this kind of appropriation would be a slam dunk. But now, with Jack in the same legislative limbo that Democrats were in for the previous 12 years — not so much.
While I sincerely hope the funds eventually come through, I can’t help but think that one reason Kingston’s district got dissed is because its representative spent most of the last six years pushing his way in front of every TV camera he saw and calling his Democratic colleagues unpatriotic terrorist-sympathizing Godless liberals who hate America.
Smiling the whole time he said it, of course.
Eventually what goes around always comes around. Some people, like Jack Kingston, have to learn this the hard way. But politics is a tough game, and unfortunately the residents of his district are also paying the price.
Jim Morekis is editor in chief of Connect Savannah. E-mail him at
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