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Zane's World

Lucky Losers

March 3, 2010, 12:00 am

Imagine a bunch of politics-obsessed weirdos working for a newspaper that goes to press every Tuesday afternoon and hits the streets Wednesday morning.

It’s maddening.

Tuesday of course, is Election Day in the United States—for once-practical reasons connected to farming, harvest and an addiction to Christianity.

Since we’re stuck with Tuesday elections—such as the Tuesday, March 2 Santa Fe municipal election—SFR generally hits the streets without the “____wins in landslide!” headline that daily mainstream media mills are designed to churn out.

Of course, we compensate with exhaustive pre-game coverage, the city’s most comprehensive endorsements and, obviously, online coverage on election night both at SFReporter.com and at our blog, SFReeper.com.

But that doesn’t change our print limitations.

Yet, while other outlets are busy lauding the winners, I can’t help but wonder about the candidates who missed the prize. We know that one lucky winner in each of the contested races is going on to a grueling and thankless job in local politics, but what about the arguably luckier losers? Should they vanish back into the fabric of the city or is it possible that their respective campaigns have revealed new potential roles in government, activism and business?

For example, what would Mayor David Coss’ options be if he failed to secure re-election? Clearly he could fall back on consulting for union organizers or he could become a dotty retiree who hides in the trees and hisses at people who litter near the Santa Fe River. But with his proven fundraising skills, his sleek campaign materials and the get-things-done-gumption he demonstrated in saving the College of Santa Fe, I think a run for state Legislature would be wise. Some might say that one incredibly polite, strangely gangly, progressive Anglo representing Santa Fe is enough, but not me. Who knows a municipal district’s needs better than a former mayor?

If sitting City Councilor Miguel Chavez misses out on his mayoral aspirations, I suggest tacking with the wind. Chavez’ emphasis on public service and basic government has been charming, but I wonder if he’s really enough in touch with his district (District 3 is the youngest and most diverse district in the city) to seek another council term in good conscience. When I asked him what he’d do if he were dictator for a day and could make any change he could think of to Santa Fe, he said he’d ensure that downtown Santa Fe is an area where people can access a thriving market in handmade, authentic crafts. That’s doable, and probably better achieved without the distractions of public office. Chavez should put all his energy into creating his dream—Santa Fe would be grateful.

If former City Manager Asenath Kepler strikes out, my instinct would be for her to lead a special task force dedicated to the proposed St. Michael’s Drive redevelopment. Such a move would ruffle some feathers in city departments, but Kepler’s visions of effective infill, small business expansion, progressive energy policy and neighborhood empowerment could coalesce convincingly within the scope of such a project. On the other hand, maybe she’ll just gear up for another shot at the mayor’s slot. Of course, there’s always the Adam Kokesh campaign for congress.

Should Doug Nava be denied his aspiration to be District 1’s city councilor, the honest and open-minded candidate should be an honorary ombudsman for the City Council and provide voters with the CliffsNotes on who’s full of it and who’s not. Nava’s ability to break things down to fundamentals would be awesome: That’s stupid; that’s not fair; that’s the coolest ordinance ever.

If incumbent District 1 Councilor Chris Calvert isn’t re-elected, he should chair a task force dedicated to expedited implementation of the Sustainable Santa Fe plan across all city departments. His passion for environment and energy should be given a laser focus.

If Russell Simon’s strong attempt to unseat Calvert ends in tears, he should settle down with an etiquette manual, pull his foot out of his mouth and hone his people politicking for another run. A strong idea man with an itchy trigger finger, Simon was built in a special factory for better, faster city councilors—but someone on the assembly line forgot to insert the humility processor.

In District 2, reigning champ Rebecca Wurzburger would need a big job to fill the hole left by losing her city government hobby. But her obvious expertise is in global, creative tourism, and her obvious comfort zone is in the private sector. There’s a business opportunity there that would practically power itself with a decent website and the occasional call to an old connection.

Stefanie Beninato’s campaign in District 2 was largely based on more transparent city government. She’s also a sometimes tour operator who believes in ghosts. It’s a stretch but, if ghosts are transparent and if they have any good advice on how to get there, perhaps a channeling service of some kind could be in order.

At the end of the day, even the winning elected officials are still stuck scrambling for side gigs or, lamentably, governing as a side gig. Maybe the real lesson here is that it’s time to make governing our city a full time job.

Follow Zane’s World on Twitter: @Zanes_World

 

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