Monday, February 23, 2009

No One. No Way.

One thing that was reinforced by Rachel Rosenfeld's mayoral announcement last week: The top suspects for the job aren't interested.

As first reported in the Fitchburg Pride over a month ago, the names that kept coming up as potential challengers -- Joel Kaddy, Dean Tran, Marcus DiNatale -- are taking a pass. Rosenfeld said she asked them to run, and they declined.


Well, here's a few possible factors:

First, maybe Lisa Wong isn't doing that bad of a job. No matter what you thought in 2007, the top issue was the city's finances (although Ted DeSalvatore would disagree, but no one believed him then. Or now). Both Wong and Tom Donnelly ran on a platform of fixing the city's finances.

Just over a year into her term, and maybe she hasn't done so bad. Library fans are screaming right now. Fair enough. But the overall picture is better than it was a year ago. There's $1 million in the stabilization fund. The city hasn't laid off dozens of workers. The city is making do, even though there's less money and fixed costs are increasing.

Wong detractors don't want to hear it, and that's fine. But if you were running for mayor, what would have done differently. Differently that wouldn't piss off a whole bunch of people. For example: if you restore the library's $800,000, where do you take the $800,000 from elsewhere?

Wong has made plenty of missteps: She's been shaky handling delicate personnel issues, she's sticking to a trash fee plan that seems DOA, and she's done just cutting in various departments to get everyone upset with her. But if you're running for mayor, are there enough holes there?

Second, and relatedly, has she done enough wrong to lose 2,000 votes? She won in 2007 by winning about 75 percent of 8,000 votes. To knock her off, you need to get about one-third of the people who voted for her change their minds. Can you do that? That's tough math to run on.

Third, who wants the job right now? Wong had to cut $1 million this year, and $4 million next year. She's getting slaughtered for it. She asks for more money, and she gets double slaughtered for it. If you're watching this, aren't you thinking, "I'm not doing this. Especially for $60,000." Love for the city only goes so far. Consider Tran. He's got a family, a good job, and enough headaches on the council. Is all that garbage enough to quit your job, lose family time, and get pounded on a daily basis? Who wants to go through that? And if you think I'm crazy, as Rosenfeld how it's gone for her over the last week. My last post was, um, highly cynical of her candidacy, and I didn't even come close to treading on issues or with a tone that you'd see elsewhere (I"m looking at you, S&E commenting forums). Who needs it right now?

Fourth, take all of the issue above, and drop everything else for the next 10 months. Go knock on thousands of doors, beg for roughly $1,000 a week, and spend every waking moment wondering how to pull this off. Good grief.

So, it's no wonder there's minimal talk for mayor candidates right now. Is there a more unappealing job in Fitchburg right now?

* * * * *

Perhaps more on this at a later date, but as I write this we're watching Andre Ravenelle's budget presentation right now. Between his enthusiasm, intelligence, and suprises like he subs in a classroom once a month, this guy is very, very good. Why do I worry he's going to bolt soon?

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