Friday, May 22, 2009

Thoughts on JW and the city

This one of the most difficult stories I've ever written for ConchoInfo. In reality it is two stories. My friend J.W. Lown is at the center of both.

One story is about successful young politician. His win in his first run for mayor was a surprise to many people, especially his opponents. He ran on a platform of being a "full time mayor" and was probably the most active mayor anyone can remember. He was on the road to a long and successful political career when life intervened in the form of love. He had to make some hard decisions. He could have just walked away, accepted politics as his true love but he didn't. He could have also done what many politicians have done and tried to hide it. Instead he chose a path that is almost Shakespearean. He was honest with the public and did the honorable thing and resigned. Given the circumstances, I am not surprised by his decision. Still, his timing was terrible and the results will be felt for years.

This brings us to the second story. The story of a mayor that was at the forefront of the change from business as usual at city hall. He started his career as mayor wanting to make the office stronge than that of just another council member. He never succeeded in making the position stronger on paper. Instead, he showed that being the only city wide elected council member and being in charge and control of the city council meetings, when coupled with energy, ideas and leadership skills was all that was needed to be a strong mayor. He treated the mayors office as the active leadership position it truly is.

I am disappointed that this happened. It was an unwelcome surprise. On the one hand, relationships that heat up to the point of making major life altering decisions in a very short time tend to burn out very fast. They often play out like a Shakespearean tragedy. I hope that doesn't happen to J.W.. On the other hand, the city of San Angelo is left in a heck of a predicament. With the current council, I doubt we are in much danger of going back to the days of business as usual. Still, we need a mayor that will be in the lead, and not be just another council member and figurehead. There is a lot of work to be done, and we do need a full, effective council.

1 comment:

  1. I second JWT's post. Depending on particulars of his partner's illegal status, it may be as long as ten years before the young man can apply for legal re-entry. It has been a good many years, but I am not so old I have forgotten when I was so swept up in love as to be distracted from all else. In fact, I was just about Lown's age. Think what one will of gays, gay rights, etc. I accept that the emotion is equally strong regardless of sexual orientation. I wish J W the best.

    Meantime, we will soon see how this plays for City Council. Council has 30 days to unanimously appoint a replacement. No candidates are being tendered so far. Morrison has twice said he believes the office should be filled by election, if it takes until November, so be it. A reasonable position, but it does not bode well for "unanimity" on any potential Mayor's appointment.

    It may come to pass that the six members of Council can agree on some fairly contentious items over the next six months. The case can be made that giving potential candidates that much time to weigh a candidacy and measure potential support will yield a larger field of qualified candidates.

    If however, Council falls out into regular 3/3 splits resulting in failed motions, there is an option that has not been publically mentioned: Texas Election Code, 41.0011. "An authority" of the city can petition the Governor for an emergency special election outside the two Uniform Election Dates. Not that long ago, Texas had four Uniform Dates. 41.0011 allowed the cost savings we got by going to only two, but still provided for unusual circumstance to be dealt with in timely fashion. Given our "Newswatch" rating of #3 in the Bloposhere, I think we can safely call our situation "unusual".

    If the Governor "determines an emergency exists, the Governor shall grant permission". As I said, if Council does not lock up, the November option may be for the best. Most commentary has ignored the 41.0011 option. I don't so much advise, at this time, as I think it fair to the citizens to have all options on the table, and this is a real option.