What, the election is this Tuesday, Nov. 8 and you haven’t picked your mayoral favorite yet?
The six–way race means it’s unlikely any one candidate will garner the 50 percent-plus-one of the votes necessary to win outright, but your vote definitely counts: The top two candidates will face each other in a runoff Dec. 6.
Everyone spouts a similar platform of fiscal responsibility, transparency, job creation and poverty reduction — the needs are obvious.
But it’s up to the voters to decide who can actually implement all those promises to attract employers, reduce red tape for small businesses, implement efficient social programs and prove City Hall can be competent.
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order, just in case you thought we were going to tip our own hand.
Nickname: “The Godfather”
Qualifications: Elected as Savannah’s first African–American mayor in 1995 and re–elected for a second term in 1999. Served on the Board of Education since 2008.
Why he deserves your vote: During his past mayoral tenure, Adams oversaw increases in commerce and decreases in crime. Both supportive of social programs and mindful of costs, he could oversee a slimmer budget that retains essential services. He has also stated that he is committed to healing the racial divide cut over last year’s city manager debacle.
Why he doesn’t: He speaks often of bringing back old programs and re–instating past policies; there don’t seem to be new ideas forthcoming in a time when innovation will be key to Savannah’s economy. Many voters feel he had his chance and that his future contribution will be too little, too late.
Favorite quote: “I’m the only one with the ability, the vision and the leadership to bring this city back together.”
Nickname: “The Southern Gentleman”
Qualifications: Spent 16 years as city council alderman–at–large, including eight as mayor pro tem.
Why he deserves your vote: Cook reduced the millage rate every year he sat on council and serves on the Metropolitan Planning Commission. He’s a fiscal conservative who counts job creation and transparency as his top priorities. He’s also promised to take a 15 percent pay cut and refuse the car allowance if elected mayor.
Why he doesn’t: He has stated that he wants to get rid of town hall meetings and cut the city budget by $70 million, which could mean slashing essential services. He also spent 16 years on the council but no one seems to remember anything he accomplished.
Favorite quote: “These guys in the last four years have had zero accountability. They’re spending money like a drunken sailor.”
Nickname: “The Outsider”
Qualifications: Dewberry has never served in public office and lists himself as a businessman.
Why he deserves your vote: Unafraid to challenge the other candidates on their records of questionable spending and cronyism, the guy’s got chutzpah. He’s openly questioned the mismanagement of ESPLOST funds and deepening the Savannah harbor, pointing out that most economic benefits will likely skip the local level and go straight to Atlanta.
Why he doesn’t: With no political track record it’s impossible to gauge Dewberry’s efficacy, but his reputation as a livewire could mean management difficulties. He’s currently in last place in polls and has been discounted by some debate organizers as “an unviable candidate.” You might be better off placing their vote elsewhere if you want it to count.
Favorite quote: “I’m James Dewberry and I’m not like anyone else.”
Qualifications: He’s a trial lawyer who’s served on city council as alderman–at–large for the past eight years.
Why he deserves your vote: Designating himself as something of an “anti–Otis,” he has criticized the current administration for the embarrassing city manager search and for using taxpayer funds for its trips to China, from which he opted out. He already has a bullet–pointed strategy to tackle job creation, poverty reduction and sustainable environmental practices in his first 30 days in office if elected.
Why he doesn’t: In his two terms on council, he wasn’t able to steer the ship safely back to port even after calling for Mayor Johnson to step down after a controversial closed–door meeting about the city manager. He has been painted as something of a troublemaker by other councilmembers.
Favorite quote: “Let’s move this city forward.”
Nickname: “The Peacemaker”
Qualifications: Three terms on city council as alderman–at–large, including two terms as mayor pro tem.
Why she deserves your vote: She’s built a broad base of relationships that can serve as a common point between businesses and community leaders; many of the city’s civic and spiritual leaders have put their support in her corner. Her agenda of pushing through new police facilities and a new arena show she’s committed to fulfilling the will of the voters.
Why she doesn’t: When questioned on strategy, her default answer is to “bring everyone to the table” rather than propose specifics. Her association with the past administration can’t be denied; during the city manager fuss she offered no leadership out of the situation. If she’s elected, Savannah will likely get more of the same.
Favorite quote: “My solution is always to bring everyone to the table and work together.”
Nickname: “Woman of A Thousand Hats”
Qualifications: She served over a decade as state representative and state senator in the Georgia General Assembly.
Why she deserves your vote: Highly respected at the state level and untainted by past city council drama, her reputation for reaching across party lines and going against her own party when she felt it was necessary shows an independent streak that could bring fresh life to Savannah. She also has been vocal about her reservations on harbor deepening, citing concerns over water quality ramifications.
Why she doesn’t: Thomas has run an unfocused campaign that hasn’t reached very far into the business and educational communities that she wants to represent. At last report, the former state senator’s mayoral campaign was almost $1300 in debt — which doesn’t bode well for someone looking to take on Savannah’s $270 million budget.
Favorite quote: “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.”