After Sheila announced she was running for mayor, I read the quotes in the SI and was concerned about what they wrote. So, I sent Sheila email and told her that I didn't like what the SI had written, didn't think the words quoted to her was what Carbondale needed. She suggested we go to lunch and after a few weeks, we really did get together. It has been six months, but it left quite an impression on me.
After Sheila and Tom Redmond sat down and we had ordered, I asked Sheila the obvious question, "Why do you want to be mayor?" She responded, "I think the strongest person should take the heavy box off the top shelf." I said, "what?" She repeated herself, exactly. I said, "what does that mean?" She went on, "you know, I think I'm a strong performer and have a lot to offer." I said, "that is the reason you want to be mayor?" "Yes." "OK." I was surprised that she didn't have a reason for being mayor that didn't suck, but decided to move along.
I next asked, "what are your economic development plans?" She said, "I don't have any." I replied, "how can you not have any?" "That is why I declared for mayor so early, so I can figure out a plan." "So, you have no idea of what you want the city to become?" I asked. "Not yet," Sheila responded. I found this to be pretty shocking, how can you live in a city for years, be on city council for 3 plus years and not have a vision for what you want to do if you become mayor?
I went on to ask her if she had read up on rural economic development, "no." Did she like how city hall performed, no real opinions.
We have a funny exchange about the Northeast part of town. I told her a story about how I started to drive though the Northeast several times a day, over the course of several weeks the previous summer. When I was driving through, my greatest impression was of the young black men walking back to their houses with brown paper bags full of booze. It seemed like a shame to me then and a shame to me now. Sheila told me, "I have never seen that." I told her, "you have to go look, when was the last time you were over there?" Ever wonder where the business for ABC and Ron's Short Stop come from? I can't say that I would be eager to ride my bike though that neighborhood if I was a woman on a hot day, but I still don't understand how you can not know what is happening in the Northeast of a city were you are running for mayor.
We talked about the responsiveness of City Hall and in particular Tom Redmond's old department and how that hurt economic development. The refused to engage in any discussion about what they saw City Hall doing if Sheila won.
I guess her campaign pitch must have become more polished since then, but her campaign plans certainly reflect this conversation. Sheila is an empty container who had little to no plans, and panders to voters by pushing committees to decide what should be done.
If she is promising something, it is to leave Carbondale in its current "Town and Gown" state of 24,000 people and nothing else. She also promises to ruffle no feathers, while accomplishing little. But, maybe that is what her supporters want?
Your comments are always welcome.