|Election morning 2018—the key takeaway of the recent city election is the fact that there was a real election with real candidates and real issues discussed.|
While I finished second, I truly emerged a winner because my hometown finally got to have the kind of election I've been advocating.
My campaign pulled together in Team Louis some of the best citizens Garland has to offer—thinking people who love this city, want to see its problems addressed openly in a constructive manner, and are issues-oriented, intelligent, discerning, and focused. I marvel at the key members that formed Team Louis and the volunteers that fanned out from the inner circle.
I have been highly frustrated in recent years as time after time Garland endured sham elections in which:
1. Opponents never materialized, so incumbents or their chosen successors were "elected" by default by a City Council that more and more resembles a self-perpetuating bank board rather than a democracy or republic in action.
2. Real meaty issues that matter most to this community were sidestepped and not discussed publicly. Instead, the council and mayor sometimes asserted that all was well, when it really wasn't.
3. Elections were steered off-course by irrelevant topics or rabbit-chasing after minor distractions.
I threw my hat in the ring for the major purpose of trying to model for the citizens of Garland what an honest-to-goodness, issues-oriented, honorable, transparent campaign looks like. I knew we were fighting an uphill battle against great odds because the city's political landscape is heading in a direction I do not support and can't change without a major miracle. I am totally opposed to secrecy, racial exclusion, self-centered political gatekeepers, vested interests, and behind-the-scenes manipulation—all hallmarks of our city's current political system.
I saw evidence first-hand and often during the campaign of the result of the lack of real elections in Garland. A private corporate board doesn't want and doesn't need input from the citizens it services. Civil government at all levels does!
|Addressing the campaign faithful at the close of Election Day. (Photo by AnaMaria de Young)|
Uncontested races and extreme apathy among our citizens and voters are unhealthy signs in our community—and signs of serious disconnect between citizens and community leaders.
In case there is any doubt whatsoever, I support an engaged citizenry. As I said over and over during the campaign, Garland's citizens are its greatest assets—not our city government, not GP&L, not our political leaders; our citizens are at the center of what is important and best about this city.
The contrast at the candidate forums held during the election illustrated the heart of the political problem in our city: Candidates with no one opposing them on the ballot (incumbents) were allowed to get up in public and present an unchallenged, one-sided positive pep talk/spin on issues, while the mayoral candidates engaged in presentations that at least tried to put the issues and their individual perspectives before the public.
I appreciate my two opponents very much for their willingness to engage in fair, honest, and open debate.
|Political signs that cropped up all over town signified the fact that Garland had itself a real election under way in the mayor's race. (Photo by John Combs.)|
1. It showed up at a so-called candidate forum in which, to the best of my awareness, candidates never received any advance notice, email, or directions about how the event would be organized—how much time I and my opponents would be given to speak, and with no prior information on whether we would be asked to answer specific questions from the audience. Poor readiness at campaign events bespeaks of the city NOT regularly practicing the fine art of holding elections.
2. It lifted its ugly head at another candidate forum at which the organizer/moderator raced over to hug one of my opponents, and in the audience's full view, greeted the candidate with great fanfare while a few minutes later unprofessionally introduced me to the audience by the wrong name. Unprofessional decorum at such an event that should be the epitome of fairness bespeaks of the city's NOT regularly practicing and promoting the fine art of holding elections.
3. The rustiness was obvious when one candidate and I saw that a third candidate stated an endorsement by an important local group of professionals. I contacted the group's leader to inquire if the candidates had somehow missed an email inviting us to an interview. I was told that no interview was ever held in which all candidates for mayor were given the opportunity to speak about themselves and vie for the endorsement. The candidate was endorsed, I was told, out of long-standing relationship with the organization. Endorsements of this nature bespeak of the city NOT regularly practicing the fine art of holding elections.
One of my candidate platforms was to overhaul our current political system. More than anything else, the election convinced me that this is absolutely necessary for the health of our community.
|Voters exercising their rights as Americans, showing up at the polls and voting, with a choice of three candidates for mayor|
The campaign also convinced me this is a long-term, systemic issue that will take time to address, perhaps from a variety of angles.
Garland's system desperately needs a revision, an overhaul, and a rebirth. This issue can be dealt with from both the inside and outside of the mayor's office. It needs to be dealt with one way or the other.
|At the campaign's kickoff I stated that part of my goal was to be part of a real mayor's race. I was glad to have two opponents and that we had ample opportunities to present issues to the citizens.|
We need contested races in every aspect of our political life here. We must not fear them. We must encourage them. We must look on them as a sign of a healthy community where real issues are discussed, debated, and eventually resolved—and not swept under the rug.
Daily I understand more fully that old cliche, "Iron sharpens iron". Sharpened citizen iron is one way to build a better community for ALL.
Our city faces serious issues that absolutely must be addressed sooner than later. Our citizens need a sharper focus on what these are and what the options are for resolving them. Our elected officials must be held accountable for how they address these matters. Competitive political races will enable that better than all the PR pizzaz the city can muster.
I love Garland and I continue to want to see it become a better city for ALL citizens.
|This spring voters had a chance to wear their "I Voted" stickers because they had filled in the ballot in a live-wire mayor's race with three candidates.|