No clowning around

Running for mayor is not a joke for these citizens

Even if they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the mayor’s seat, we’ve got some “fringe” candidates with a lot on the ball.

That’s why SN&R’s editorial board reacted with shock to Bee columnist Marcos Bretón’s decision to slam lesser-known candidates in print, referring to them as “court jesters” in his May 18 column. (For more on that, see “Bullies and Ballots,” SN&R Bites, May 22.)

We interviewed all the mayoral candidates (except Richard Jones, who didn’t return our calls, and Adam Daniel, who’d already dropped out of the race). It’s clear from those interviews that these people are not clowns of any kind.

For example, Shawn Eldredge (the long-haired guy who wore a Led Zeppelin T-shirt to the debate—and you can’t fault his taste in music) turned out to have a pretty intriguing take on the relationship between the city’s budget problems and its land-use policy.

“The city’s revenue stream is based on taxes and sales taxes that rely on the developers,” he told us. “That’s not a good long-term plan, as we’re seeing now. We’ve been creating spaces, like in Natomas, that we’ll just have to turn around and redevelop in order to make it sustainable.”

He’s also—and this comes from his experience with the Midtown Business Association—pretty clear on the relationship between crime and successful redevelopment, pointing to the perception of Midtown as relatively safe as a reason it’s been more successful at redevelopment than K Street or Del Paso or Northgate.

Now, Leonard Padilla? He’s in the race because he believes a city helmed by Kevin Johnson would be a disaster. Padilla strode into the editor’s office and immediately took the “seat of power”—the big, leather executive chair behind the desk. No wonder he thinks we should revise the city charter in favor of a strong mayor; he’s got that powerful leader vibe down. But he pointed out that a strong mayor “would be accountable to the voters.” Under the current system, the mayor can’t be held completely responsible for what happens in the city, he noted, because the city manager’s in charge.

And Muriel Strand, who’s been taking so much flak for her comments about chickens? Unfortunately for us, there’s reason to believe she’s all too prescient (check out R.V. Scheide’s recent work on peak oil, “Peak oil’s slippery slope,” SN&R Race to the Bottom, March 27; or “Sacramento on empty,” by Cosmo Garvin and myself; January 26, 2006).

She arrived with detailed plans to advance the city’s preparations for life after cheap energy and global climate change, including a bibliography both comprehensive and accessible. What’s more, she drew a clear picture of the connections between violence and detachment from community that could be put to work immediately, with very little outlay in funds.

Frankly, we thought it wise to spend a little more ink on these “fringe” candidates. What’s more, we suggest that, no matter who sits in the mayor’s seat next term, these public-spirited citizens be put to work. Find jobs for ’em, because we need both their energy and their ideas.