Indeed. Minneapolis has 17 candidates for mayor. The poor voters are supposed to go through the whole pile and pick a favorite, a runner-up and a third selection. This is called ranked-choice voting and it’s gotten very popular around the country. As the votes are counted, the biggest losers are tossed off and the people who picked them get their next choice put in the mix. The system has many advantages, but it does add one more responsibility to your good-citizen agenda. I remember being stuck at my Manhattan polling place, trying to imagine who my third-favorite candidate for comptroller might be …
The Minneapolis election is theoretically nonpartisan but the candidates are allowed to give themselves a tag. Seven say they’re Democratic Farmer-Labor, which is going to give the voters quite a bit to scramble through, when they aren’t being distracted by the difference between the Independent, Independence Alliance and For the People parties. Or the self-declared nicknames, like Nate “Honey Badger” Atkins and Kevin “No Body” Ward. Another candidate calls himself Bob “Again” Carney Jr. and that’s a great reminder of how many times you’ve gone to vote, looked at the ballot and moaned, “Not again …”
So, bottom line: big election doings coming on Tuesday. For your town, for your city and for all those candidates. Winning a job like mayor is certainly an opportunity to serve the community. And maybe it’s a political steppingstone to — what?
A. Being elected president
B. Being elected mayor again
C. Being indicted
Well, only three American mayors have ever gone on to the White House, and the last of those was Calvin Coolidge. As far as lengthy tenure goes, lots of towns now have term limits, but for those that don’t, the sky’s the limit. (By the way, feel free to congratulate Robert Blais of Lake George, N.Y., on his 50th anniversary as village mayor. Blais, 85, recently told a local paper that he was leaning heavily toward retirement a couple of years down the line.)
On the indictment front, I noticed that a leading candidate for mayor in the upcoming Cincinnati election had his campaign sidetracked when he was charged with accepting bribes last November. Certainly sounds like time for a change, but observers are noting that the Cincinnati electorate seems a little, um, detached. “Does anyone care, including the candidates themselves?” demanded a local columnist.
Well, you can understand why the voters might be a tad depressed, given that a third of the City Council has been arrested on charges like bribery and extortion. But really, citizens, this is exactly the time you have to put on your boots and march over to the polling places, demonstrating that you’re paying attention and want to turn things around.
Really, it’ll perk up your day. Even if it’s raining.