by Joe Fitzgerald
Fifteen months ago, I wrote the following about last year’s Harrisonburg City Council elections:
We need people, independent or party, who value pragmatism over ideology. And we need people who know the difference between pragmatism and cynicism, and the difference between opportunity and opportunism. This would be the year for people who are concerned, in the words of an ancient Greek poet, about what is right and good for their city, and are willing to sacrifice the time, treasure, and energy to work for those concerns.
The Harrisonburg Democratic Committee reacted by kicking me off a database I’d been using to help candidates for 20 years, and continued a nomination process marked by two deeply flawed caucuses. The year ended with a council dominated by ideological opportunists. (The reference to the database is thrown in to highlight absurdity; you get it or you don’t.)
Next year three out of five City Council members will be on the ballot. Mayor Reed, elected eight years ago as “Everywoman,” has since grown to become the moral center of the council. The other two are a man with the personal behavior of a person half his age and a woman who, in the immortal words of Jed Bartlett, has turned being un-engaged into a Zen-like thing.
In that same West Wing scene, Bartlett says, “We should have a great debate. We owe it to everyone.” Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?
There is a class of people in the city, from the serious to the absurdist, who have managed to keep up with or remain engaged in local politics even with the diminution of local journalism. Many would probably like to see that great debate about the city’s future. Right now they’re asking questions like “What are the Democrats going to do?” and “Will the Republicans run anybody?” Continue reading