Tuesday, April 04, 2006

City Council Races

It is axiomatic among military historians that generals typically “fight the last war”. For instance, WWI employed massed charges from entrenched positions against a new toy, the machine gun, which mowed down men like so much corn before a harvesting machine. WWII opened with horse cavalry, biplanes, and pyrotechnically spectacular battleship engagements, none of which had any real effect of the eventual outcome. Tanks turned the stalemate of WWI, and aircraft carriers and nuclear bombs won WWII.

There is a tendency to do the same thing politically. The campaigns for city council have so far avoided genuinely new ideas. This is politically understandable, nobody has ever lost many votes by supporting an already proven concept.

In the upcoming races it will be up to us as voters to demand answers to the new problems the Council will have to deal with. If a candidate comes to us declaring general love of economic development, job creation, (unless they tell you which jobs, doing what at which new or existing company, for a wage of).... and cutting waste in public spending, he or she will be fighting the last war.

There will come up in this term of council new issues, and some of the decisions we make (or don't make, even scarier) will still be having effect past a time when I can reasonably expect to be worm food.

Now that the hold on it is expiring, we can expect to see the elected/appointed Police Chief issue as a Charter measure. It seems we will be presented with a strong-mayor form of city government. San Angelo may want to amend the limitations on economic development tax revenue to give COSADC more flexibility, or less. It is possible we can get Council to look at; dare I mention it, synchronizing traffic lights. The elephant in the room will be water. I will give you this much of a hint; If you ask a candidate about the Region F Water Study Group report and the response is “Huh?”, vote for the other guy. Public safety communications is in dire need of upgrading and needs to be done right.

In upcoming posts, we will be addressing these items separately, we at conchoinfo have already done considerable research on the issues. Www.conchoinfo.org does not endorse candidates directly, but we try to put forth the issues those candidates should be addressing and give pro/con options in plain English. It will be up to us as voters to demand straight answers from candidates to direct questions. Stay tuned, please.

Council has lost a lot of expertise by retirement. It may surprise the casual reader to hear that in particular I will miss Devin Bates and Jamie Rainey. My representative, Joe Holguin is retiring after 10 years' service. We did not agree on all topics, but these members were competent, usually well prepared and willing to look at new information. I personally thank them for their service and hope their seats are adequately filled.

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