Monday, November 05, 2007

The last campaign interview

I sat down with Gene Weiss on Saturday morning. I was glad we got the chance, as the single least fair thing I had written in this campaign was about Mr. Weiss, and I was hoping to get the chance to write something else before it was all done. What I had written was that something about him had rubbed me the wrong way at the Chamber of Commerce's forum at the library, and then I just left it at that. The first thing he asked me Saturday was if I had figured out what it was. I haven't, and I've given up trying to figure it out. Every time I think 'maybe it was...' I run the danger of basically making something up and believing it for lack of a better alternative. Anyway, whatever it was, I didn't really pick up on it again this time.

We talked about this campaign and election, and how it really seems up for grabs. In any election, you have two sources of votes: people who will vote for you, if they in fact actually vote, and people who might vote for someone else, but might be convinced to vote for you (if they do, in fact, end up voting). So I asked Mr. Weiss: what is your base? How would you characterize the group of people who will vote for you if you can get them to the polls? He told me that he's been a Bexley resident for decades, and that most of the people he knows are the families of his children's schoolmates. Additionally, he cultivated many relationships during his tenure on the school board.

So then, what about the undecideds? What do you tell the people who answer the door on Sunday or are surfing the net for candidate info on Monday night? Mr. Weiss replied that you'll want to vote for him if you want Bexley's mayor to have a plan. At this point he gave as an example the Police Station and the cascade of municipal building conundrums this has engendered. In addition to explaining how having a long-range master plan means at minimum that you won't move forward with decisions about one building until you know how it will affect your other physical assets, he offered up his preference for a Police Station on Delmar and a Service Facility placed outside of the city limits. Without speaking to the merits of this plan otherwise, I immediately noted the way in which he explained in passing that the Delmar site creates a northside gateway, and that the proposed south-western Bexley site for the Service Facility would negatively impact the quality of life for residents there. It's pretty rare for a candidate to address the needs of residents in all of Bexley's regions without calling attention to the fact that they are talking about all of Bexley's regions. I liked that.

Not to short-shrift the rest of Mr. Weiss's platform and ideas, but much of the rest of our conversation dealt with the same sorts of things that always come up - cutting expenditures, developing Main Street, etc. We did talk a bit about making the city more friendly and receptive, both in terms of regulation and code enforcement. I thought about bringing up the FOP thing, but decided against it. I started some speculative conversation about how to work with Columbus to make the Eastside more of a priority (Mr. Weiss was cautious and skeptical, but listened politely). I sat and listened while folks came in and out and said hi, and I eventually had to take off.

This brings to a close my pre-election campaign coverage. For those who haven't been reading, I explain my methodology in this response to someone less than thrilled with my sunshiny approach (possibly given my less friendly approach to the state and federal legislators).

If you haven't already voted, please make sure that you take the time to exercise that right and privilege.

To all of the candidates, especially those who have taken the time and made the effort to talk to me as both a citizen of Bexley and a guy with a website, best of luck to you.

I'll be working my 9-5 tomorrow, but I will be blogging the election returns tomorrow night, live if I can swing it.

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