Monday, August 27, 2007

Questions that Need Answers, Part IV

I am extremely skeptical that changing the municipal government to an elected mayor format will do much good. I'm willing to listen to some arguments, and in the last week or so I've convinced myself of some of the merits of a mayoral system, but there are still a lot of questions that I will need concrete answers to before I acquiesce to the concept. So here are some of my questions, in no particular order.

1.) Pay

2.) Expectations

3.) Hiring & Spending Power

4.) Campaigns

Sweet Jesus, I sure hope every one is very clear what we're getting ourselves into in this department. Kent Monte is on the track with this one:

The Mayor will have to "put up or shut up" or risk being ousted in the next election. The flood gates will open. If you think that the Castle/Esslinger race was expensive (over $20k combined) stand back. This will make that one look small. The ONW will take sides, the political parties will get involved (despite the "non partisan" tag) and there will be quite a mud slinging affair between the "sides" that will form. It will be a popularity contest like you have never seen before and we will be lucky if we get a candidate that can find his ass with both hands and a flashlight to run the city.

This is pretty accurate in my estimation. It will be expensive, it will be messy, there will likely be a primary involved in which the crowd is thinned. There will be a "North side" candidate, a "West side" candidate, a "Chamber" candidate, an "average Joe" candidate, and likely some crazy whack job who hates everything and everybody and wants nothing more than a platform from which to whine.

There will be TV commercials, mailers, LWV forums running on a continuous loop on OCAT until what seems like the end of time. The people of Oshkosh will have precise knowledge of how long 60 seconds is because they will be hearing Kathy Propp's voice interrupting candidate's to tell them that their time is up in their sleep.

And anyone who lift's a finger to help out one of the candidate's -- let's there name be used as a supporter, say, or helps do some campaigning, or, God forbid, gives money to -- will become an official member of that candidate's "good old boys" club (see #3 above).

How will this thing be funded? Will there be limits? Same rules as the council seats or, because the nature of the race will be fundamentally different, will there be different rules?

What will the primaries look like? Will we thin the crowd be narrowed down to the top 2 candidates or three? How long between the primary and the run-off will there be 4 weeks? 6 or 8 weeks?

Have we even settled on how long the term will be? 2 years or 4? How often can we expect to enjoy this semi-annual ritual of civic division?

Will sitting members of the council be allowed to run for the office if their term is not yet over or will they have to give up their seats?

Provided that the mayor's pay is close to $100,000 (See #1 above), won't an incumbent mayor have a money advantage over the person making an average wage in Oshkosh?

Will third parties be allowed to campaign for their respective candidate? Will these third parties have to register with the city? Will third parties from out-of-town be welcome to enter the debate? What if one of those third parties is a development firm from Phoenix that has eyes on the old Pioneer Inn land? Can they throw their two cents in two?

Will the campaigns be partisan?

Will the election always be in the spring? Why not November?

What happens if there should be a (God forbid) tie?

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