posted by Christopher Swope
Help! Next Tuesday, we here in Washington, D.C., will be electing a successor to Two-Term Mayor, One-Time Public Official of the Year, and On-Again-Off-Again Blogger Tony Williams. I'm totally stuck on the decision of who to vote for. So are many of my friends who live in the District.
And so, it comes to this: Tell me who I should vote for. Really. If this were 2004, I might've flipped a coin. Today, thankfully, we have blogs. Rather than leave my vote to dumb luck, I can now entrust it with a politically-savvy national audience of state and local government aficionados.
So take a second and vote on my vote. If you have more detailed advice or insights to share, click on "comments" below and have at it.
Since most of you don't live in Washington--lucky dogs!--I'll spare you the candidates' names, their resumes and where they stand on the issues. None of them is for bad schools, more crime or bigger potholes. And both of the front runners are on the city council.
Instead, I'll characterize the race for you in the way that the media here is playing it: basically, a choice between two personality types. We have:
* Candidate A, who is boring, but knows local government and is seen as the coalition-building type. Mayor Williams endorsed Candidate A, making this candidate the establishment choice.
* Candidate B, who is young and charismatic, but doesn't play well with others. Some in the business community view Candidate B as risky, but the Washington Post endorsed this candidate, so how risky can that be?
Here's why I'm on the fence.
Washington has had both of these types of mayors recently and both had their shortcomings. The charismatic one, unfortunately, turned out to enjoy doling out patronage jobs as much as he liked smoking crack. But Marion Barry sure was spirited, loved the city, and people forget, he wasn't such a bad mayor in his early years.
Then there's Williams, who would rather talk management theory than shake hands at a parade. I think Tony Williams has been very good for Washington. The city is prospering in a way that it hasn't in some time. But Williams, who still lives in a rented apartment, lacked the sort of larger-than-life passion that big cities need from their mayors.
I suppose it's common for cities to waver between these two personality types--think Rudy Giuliani versus Mike Bloomberg. Both types of mayors can be effective in their own ways--so long as there's a basic level of managerial competence.
So there's our choice. Substance? Or style?