City election 2014 – First look

As of January 19 there are 8 announced candidates for 3 seats on the ballot in this spring’s Gainesville City Commission election. The qualifying period ends at noon on Friday, January 24th, so we’ll know then exactly whose names will appear on the March 11 ballot.

I’ll discuss the races in terms of the electability scale I came up with for my essay So Ya Wanna Be a Commissioner?  I’ll go into detail about the candidates’ scores after the qualifying period ends.

Two races involve incumbents seeking reelection: District 2, with Todd Chase, and District 3, with Susan Bottcher.  Aside from the fact that both are being challenged by political newcomers who barely register on the electability scale, the two contests are mirror images of one another.

Chase is a Republican with solid Tea Party backing, whereas Bottcher is the Democrat the Tea Party offers as the poster girl for all that’s wrong with the current City Commission.  And based on the track record of the electability scores, at this point, it’s almost certain both incumbents will be returned to office.

The third race is for an open at-large seat, currently occupied by term-limited Thomas Hawkins.  Candidate Don Shepherd has run for City Commission previously, but has an electability score of zero, while the only thing I could find out about Barbara Ann Ruth is that there was a Lauren Poe sign in front of her house when the Google Streetview car drove by in 2011.

That means the real race for the seat will be between business owner Annie Orlando and realtor Helen Warren.  Though both have noteworthy activist backgrounds, neither has the kind of resumé that puts a candidate over the threshold of electability.

Historically, that threshold is about 65 points on my scale, and as best I can determine at this point, they each register only about half that value, which has a couple of implications:  first, that this shapes up to be a very close race between these two, and, second, that if someone with a high electability score, such as a previous commissioner, were to enter the race, he or she would have a high likelihood of winning.

Stay tuned…  If Tea Party/anti-GREC candidates sweep all three seats, they’ll hold a solid 4-to-3 majority on the commission.  If they take two of the seats, the likely result will be to make Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls the swing vote on many of the issues that come before the commission.  This election year is about to get interesting…

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