Who will win seats on the City Commission in a couple of weeks? If the front-runners are successful, will that be what’s best for Manhattan?
It seems Manhattan politics never allow the pendelum to rest quietly at the bottom of its stroke. The political pendelum swings hard one way… then hard back the other way. When we had Brad and Mark and Ed, there was a lot of concern about being too fiscally conservative… too much micro-management. So, the pendelum swung hard left. That hard swing put us on the path towards the current City debt approaching $300 million and escalating property taxes. In 2011, the pendelum swung hard back right giving us two of the most fiscally and socially conservative commissioners we’ve seen in a long time. Will the pendelum remain hard right? Or, will it snap-hook itself back to the far left?
Personally, I hate to see the pendelum moved so far right that our community becomes governed by a cult of Faux News, Limbaugh, etc. disciples. I’m probably more fearful, however, of seeing the community governed by those who will enact poorly written ordinances and spend dollars we don’t have on “feel good”, special interest causes. I wish we could find some good middle ground. That is difficult to do in today’s extremely divided political arena.
Matta and Butler’s terms are not up and they will remain seated on the Commission. Both are extremely conservative, socially and fiscally. Pepperd and Sherow are leaving the Commission after giving back to the community for many years. Even though I did not agree with many of their stands on issues, I certainly appreciate the time they gave to our City. Jankovich is running for re-election. I always thought Rich was positioned “middle road”. The integrity Rich has shown by recusing himself when there could be an appearance of impropriety has been honorable and refreshing. I was greatly disappointed in his vote on the Library issue this past week. He brought forward arguments as to why the issue was not fiscally sound, from a banker’s perspective, yet voted for it. That hinted at him bowing to political and/or social pressure rather than uphold what was best for the City. I’m a little queasy, after that vote, but still believe Rich has integrity and am pretty certain he will be re-elected.
That leaves two open seats for four other candidates supported by various segments of the community. A fifth contender, Mr. Hogan, I do not believe has the financial support or popular support to be competitive with the others. A sixth, Ms. Reddi, I believe may show a little better than Mr. Hogan, but still won’t challenge the “Big 4”. Of those four top contenders, two lean hard left. One leans hard right. The fourth leans right of center. Will we see the two who lean left balance the two conservatives remaining on the Commission with Jankovich being the swing vote? Will we see the two who lean right bring us a heavily weighted commission towards the conservative side? It’s going to be interesting….
Hopefully, the people of Manhattan will decide if they want governance that takes charge of our fiscal well being and finds means towards paying down our large debt and reducing our heavy tax burden. Social services are necessary and should be maintained to benefit those who have fallen on hard times. Social issues should NOT, in my opinion, be the driving force behind local governance. Our community needs to get its fiscal house back in order before attempting to legislate social agendas.
My gut feeling is that the immediate need for fiscal restraint will trump social issues and move the Commission even more conservative in April.