Wednesday, April 6, 2011

UPDATE - Critical Election and Stealth Candidates April 5th.

Like any election cycle, there were disappointments and bright spots. I have some specific thoughts moving forward.

We knew that Assessor Candidate Chip Wood faced a huge uphill battle starting with his running in solidly Democrat leaning St. Louis County and his starting the race against a man who already had over $200,000 in the bank. But still we fought. We fought because we want someone who will be professional, resist temptation to grow government, and because we like Chip. I hope he stays involved.

In Rockwood, like Chip Wood, we knew we were challenging an entrenched teacher union network. They have great lists of current and former teachers and administrators, and their message is simple and effective and wrong. At the polls all day, the teachers tell the voters, "support your teachers" as they hand them their picks. Well who opposes teachers? Mike Geller took the bold step of running and the even bolder step of running for the taxpayers and kids. His message was "vote for taxpayers and students". The truth is, we build schools and fund them, not for teachers, but for kids. We need to support our teachers as far as support for them does not harm kids. In the end, we need to vote for kids. Evidently, we fail to sink that message with the highly educated West County voters every cycle, and the degree to which we do sink it, we fail to succeed in turning out those voters. And with 17% voter turnout, the unions have their way more cycles than not.

In Monarch Fire District, we had one of the oddest splits of my political life. We have had three cycles in a row in which the taxpayers have aligned behind Fire Director Rick Gans and the union has had their candidate. The battle lines were clear.

This time, it appears the unions retained several Republican consultants who smeared our guy Gans as they touted Swyers as the "non-union" guy to "clean up the mess". The only mess most of us cared about was keeping a check on the union, which Gans was doing, so there was natural distrust of a candidate no one heard of, who was the father of a union firefighter.

I met Swyers at the polls, too. He seems like a decent man who is angry about mudslinging in his first campaign. I told him I was angry that he was obfuscating his funding. We set up electronic campaign financing to add convenience for candidates and transparency for voters. What was I to expect from a Certified PUBLIC Accountant who was taking the extra step of paper filing his financial dislosures and avoiding public transparency? The "P" in CPA means that ones duty is to the public first, even over the interest of any employer. Swyers knows this. There were at least eight or nine mailers from the Swyers camp, a tremendous amount of money spent on radio and a phone calling campaign and at least one paid staffer in Rush James.

Well, after running an aggressive, very expensive campaign with only $10,000 of reported spending, and swearing he was not union-supported, taxpayers are left wondering who really backed and funded the Swyers campaign, and will Swyers really stand for taxpayers or the union? Will Swyers follow through and cut the firefighter pay to say, the level of the police pay? Time will tell.

We did have several bright spots. My other four candidates won. Derek Grier will be a great new voice at Chesterfield City Hall. He will join Bob Nation who easily won re-election. In Ballwin, Mark Harder defeated long-time incumbent Pat McDermott. This was a tremendous feat as Pat is a popular local figure known for years of dedication to the community including the operation of the Ballwin Days Fair. Mark just outworked him. He will be great for Ballwin. Down in Jefferson County, my friend Dan Shaul won a seat on the Windsor school district board of education. He will do a great job looking out for kids.

When I sum this up, I end up back in the same place I always do; Civic Education. I spoke to an elementary school just last week as a "former Senator" because this is a hallmark of what I see as the real solution. The message is simple, this is your government-own it.

Politicians can only do so much. We eliminated the June (school) election date because limited ballots favor special interests. We merged school elections with the April (municipal) elections in hopes that broader interest would improve accountability. Still only 17% of people bothered voting. In America, we should not have to put all issues on in August and November in order to get people to care, but maybe that is what it will take. If 300 more "taxpayers" had shown up, Geller would have one.

We need to demand accountability and transparency from candidates. It still disturbs me that the Swyers campaign was so secretive. Union firefighters were staffing the polls for him while Lieutenant Governor Kinder recorded robo calls for him. Is he the union candidate or the GOP accountability candidate? We have no idea who paid for any of it, because he filed his reports on paper. In an ideal world, voters would have the mental foundation to find that as objectionable as I do and vote accordingly.

Who is going to take up the cause of cajoling "general interest" or "taxpayer candidates" into voting in April? Who will take up the cause of educating voters that the school board candidate who "supports the teachers" first, probably supports the taxpayers last? Why do we put firefighters over taxpayers? Is $126,000 in compensation and benefits not enough? Who will watch Monarch Fire District or any of the other Districts and begin the process of educating people about the insidious nature of public unions? Maybe you.


Rick said...

Yes, civic education is going to be the key. I think I have something that works but the mechanisms I have for spreading it are limited. Let me know if you want to talk and brainstorm. You know where to reach me. - Rick Tsa'ara

taxpayerwatchdog said...

Notice that few public schools even have a class called "civics"?

taxpayerwatchdog said...

Another great victory. My friend James Knowles is the new mayor of Ferguson. He will be awesome.

Breakfast Server said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Something said...

Gans losing the election to "The Union Man" Swyers is a big blow to the progress Gans made in the Monarch district. I'm disgusted by the dirty campaign that Swyers ran and the fact that, once again, the firefighters' union got its way.

I sincerely hopes Gans chooses to run in 2013 to clean up the mess that Swyers and the union will inevitably create.