To get back to local issues, I will try to explain why Scott Brown’s victory in the Liberal North East has an impact on our upcoming local elections this spring.
First, as I’ve stated before on the blog, 2010 is a year of anti-incumbency. If you an elected official, an insider; it is not something I would go about promoting during your campaign. Exit polls in Virginia and New Jersey showed independents hell bent on punishing the party in power. While there were no exit polls officially in Massachusetts, post election interviews show the same sentiment.
Second, spending over the past decade on Government programs have far outstripped our ability to pay for them. Voters are upset at elected officials going back to the trough over and over again for their pet projects. This is evident even at the local level. I predict if the KISD goes to the voters to raise their tax cap, it will fail miserably. They will threaten to cut bus service or even Football to scare the voters, but it will blow up in their faces. Same for any large bond elections the City puts forth, even if the spending is needed. Why? Because both the City and School District have not done enough to cut spending on frivolous items first, before going to the voters for even more money. The School District gave every employee a pay raise just as their tax paying citizens were being laid off in record numbers. The City has still not cut one position from a staff that could use some trimming. The Citizens know this and will rebel at any new spending.
Third, the Tea Party Independents know they are gaining traction. It is starting to feel as it did in 1994 again, and all the disparaging comments made about these folks the last year is making their numbers larger, not smaller. Even for Republican Incumbents facing a challenge from their Right (See Vicki Truitt), they will have to fight hard to keep their seat. Beware the sudden swing to the right by these people; they will tack back to the left as soon as they think you aren’t paying attention anymore.
It is a perfect storm brewing, one that would be perfect for a run by a candidate that wants to challenge an incumbent and have a chance at winning. I think turnout will be higher this year in local elections, as people are really starting to pay attention.
I ran my first election campaign in 1996, after the ’94 “Revolution” and was able to beat an incumbent with huge name recognition all because I was the outsider. It wasn’t that Rodney was a bad guy (or really a bad City Councilman, even if he was/is a far left Democrat), it was that he was an incumbent at a time when people wanted to “throw the bums out.”
I have been asked to run in this cycle, either for Council or School Board and am considering my options. Money, time and opportunity are all factors, that and an interal debate I have with myself that if serving would have an ultimate purpose. I don’t wish to be an elected official just to be an elected official. Bringing a true fiscal conservative view to either body would be a benifit, as I don’t believe either body is represented by someone who actually has that belief.