The real big issues have to do with the West Side...and even those who don't live there recognize that it cannot be ignored. But there is no consensus on solutions for those gigantic problems. The West Side is indeed the coyote in the corral, so to speak. For many, dumping him for a city councilor doesn't seem worth the effort. It just might lead to more fighting in the Council with no assurance that things would be any better. They might even get worse.
So I went to the debate last night at the Plumbers Hall, not to take sides, just to see if it felt like the race was over. It was hard to tell:
Martin Chavez wasn't there. He sent James Lewis in his place. Sometimes, when he got in a tight spot, he just said, "I haven't talked to Marty about that, so I can't answer the question." Lewis is obviously smart and knowledgable. He is also articulate, but very restrained emotionally...one might even say dead-pan.
Eric Griego did himself a lot of good. He may not get the support of organized labor as a result of this debate at a union hall, but he will get a lot of votes from union workers anyway. In fact, the big impression from the evening was that Griego was just a little better than everybody else at everything. And it was more than that: one actually felt that he was sincerely on your side. In a jaded world, that is not easy to do.
The format of the "debate" consisted of answering questions posed by officials from the various union locals. The questions were generally excellent, and it did point out a few differences between the candidates.
- Public Campaign Financing: Griego & Steele, YES...Chavez, NO.
- Minimum Wage Initiative: Griego & Steele, YES...Chavez, NO.
- Road through the Petroglyphs: Griego, NO...Steele & Chavez, YES.
But back to the big question: Is the mayoral race over? Johnny_Mango seems to have a foot in both camps.
MY HEAD says it's over. There is no way anyone is going to catch him. Brad Winter...why vote for him? David Steele...who? Eric Griego...how can he possibly win after kissing off the Westside? Phrases like "toll bridge" and "construction moratorium" are just asking for trouble.
MY HEART says that Eric Griego feels like a different kind of politician. Griego just might raise our community expectations to a point where we start believing in a better world. He fights the good fight. But is he a giant killer? That is the question.