Finishing up on my series of voting roundup posts are local things. These matter the least, really, which is quite unfortunate since, as a small gov’ type, in my ideal world these would matter far more than national politics. Oh well. I previously covered federal, state, and ballot initiatives.
First up is our local state rep. I know this sounds like it should go in the state post but I put it here for two reasons. First, it's really more local as this is our area rep for the state legislature (not US Congress as previously covered) and we have quite a few (for where I live, it is state rep #33). Second, the other post was already getting quite lengthy.
We have basically a Dem seeking re-election and opposed only by a Green Party dude with an interesting name. I say interesting not because his name itself is all that remarkable but rather because of the unusual official ballot stylization: Conrad "Mr. Conrad" Harvin. Why they or he felt the need to include the nickname is both curious and a little bizarre. I like both.
A cursory glance at Mr. Allen's profile and already things aren't looking good. The only pieces of sponsored legislation listed all sound like awful good-intentions freedoms-killing bills. Protecting children from second-hand smoke, children's imitation firearm act, and an act to create an alternative energy commission. Glad to see he's been spending his time (and our money) so wisely. Be sure to read that last statement with a sufficiently snarky tone.
What's kinda funny is that Harvin lost last election cycle, mustering only 240 smackaroos against Allen's $34k. Allen won with eight times as many votes. Ouch, but not at all surprising.
Harvin, like most Greens covered in previous posts, is pretty standard party fare. He wants socialized medicine, recycling, and other hippie crap. The only redeeming part I can see is his desire to decriminalize marijuana, but I don't think that alone could get me to stomach voting for 'im. He'd be too dangerous in such a position, though perhaps woefully opposed and thus effectively impotent. Nah, still too risky.
We got only major party candidates for this one. The Dem is seeking re-election. Sheriff is one position I am a bit more scrupulous of as it affects this area much more so. I am particularly averse to over-policing, excessive jailing of citizens, the militarization of police (see also), and zealous and/or corrupt prosecutors.
This one was an easy decision, though, mostly due to the candidates’ own admissions. The Rep has a BA in criminal justice and an AA in law enforcement (opposition has only an AA). He's much younger, much less experienced (I see new blood being good sometimes), and his website is, compared to a lot of the local candidates, pretty decent. Based on his brief issue-essays on his site, he seems not too bad. A bit too concerned with the shortcomings of the current Sheriff (the Dem) but not all that surprising for election times. He at least, surprisingly, seems to not be an immigration ass as most Reps typically are, desiring to double-down on Hispanic outreach and protection since they tend to be more likely to not report crimes out of fear of the police.
Compare that to the incumbent Dem who's site looks straight out of the nineties, even complete with a scrolling marquee tag! His blurbs aren't particularly worrisome, though they aren't really all that encouraging either. Coupled with the accusations from the Rep it seems kinda iffy that he doesn't have more to brag about. Just about his only redeeming quality is his awesome name: Sheriff Doc Holladay. (I wonder if it's his actual birth name?)
Honestly, though, there's a ton more about each that is either ho-hum or practically the same, and in all likelihood the similarities are more than it seems (that always seems to be the case in my experience). With that, I suppose in the interest of shaking up things, having a fresh administration, and because he's marginally better, I'll give the Rep a vote, though it isn't a very passionate one. I know, I know — what votes of mine so far have been, right? Well, get used to that.
County Circuit Clerk
Nothing but a Dem running. And he ain't an incumbent! I had to look up what the clerk does. Apparently, as the word clerk suggests, it is mostly a functional position in charge of records keeping, certificates (birth/death/marriage), and elections at the county level. I appreciate the honor of picking the position (no, really!) but it doesn't help that he's guaranteed to win since he's unopposed (not even a fake opposition from a Green candidate; nothin'!).
Surprisingly, his campaign site is quite nice for such a small-timey position without any opposition to warrant needing such quality. He seems to genuinely care about keeping his politics separate from his position, which is a nice sentiment, I suppose, though the Clerk isn't really one that could push much of a party agenda even if they wanted to. Still, I appreciate his candor in responding to questions from citizens regarding his chairmanship of the local Democratic party committee, of which he has claimed to step down from if elected.
He isn't particularly nasty, either, with one of his campaign issues basically saying "The current clerk has really brought things around, and I promise to keep it up too!" Again, though, that's easy to say since he hasn't got any opponents to cut down. All in all, he seems like a perfectly fine person for the job, if a bit unremarkable. But all the more reason why he doesn't need my vote to win, so I won't bother.
Interestingly, both candidates are independents, including the incumbent seeking re-election. Odd, but I like it. Mayor is another one that I'd like to see a good person for, like Sheriff.
Disappointingly, though, it looks like the contender is a small fry would-be who simply lost the Green Party nom. for a different position. Oh well. Says he's big on marijuana reform, though. I'm always down for that, but a Greenie in the Mayor's seat? I don't think so.
Our current mayor, who will easily win re-election, is probably just okay. I honestly never hear much about the local stuff. I did see him in person the other day when we attended the Little Rock Animal Village's Fall Pawty where he gave a short speech. Yeah. That's about all I remember of him.
In the end, like the Clerk, he won't need my vote to win.
Our city is apparently further split up into wards, of which I get to vote on the city director of the sixth. I suppose they serve the mayor as a closer advocate to specific areas of the city.
Information on the city director candidates is exceedingly absent online, making my decision all the more easy. When in doubt, no vote.
But what I did find was enough to sway me. An article on a small business news site detailed some brief journalism and interviews with several city director candidates including the two that apply to my area. One I had already read some material on, as I found it in my mailbox a few weeks ago. The other I learned through the small business site is a graphic designer from California who seems a lot more focused on spurring small business growth and entrepreneurialship. That's always a win in my book, particularly when the current incumbent (again, via the material I got in my mailbox courtesy of her campaign!) seems much more focused on beautification of blight and sprucing up parks and other city crap.
Don't get me wrong, though. As a city resident, I like nice parks and nice areas too. I'll be the first to admit that there is a lot of "blight" and rundown areas near where I live. But I'd rather have my city director wanting to spur business growth than to simply be glad-handing to the city for landscaping money. In the end, it will always be the private sector that revitalizes a section of a city. It's much more permanent and important of a solution. Sign me up for the opponent. (And hey, some of my best friends are graphic designers!)
State Supreme Court
Last up is a runoff for a state supreme court position. As someone who likes following bits and pieces of SCOTUS, I'm keen to get good folks on our state court. Admittedly, Arkansas never has nor ever will be a hot place for big controversial cases, but you never know and even the small stuff can be important.
This stuff is much more difficult to wade through, though, since it is mostly legal briefs and philosophy. Still, all it took was a brief look over the candidates' campaign sites to know what to do.
Though both are required by state law to not have any party allegiances (or even appearances; one got into a brief bit of heat for using the Republican buzzphrase "family values"), it was easy to discern that the first guy was a definite conservative. The first radio spot I listened to had him spouting justice platitudes but then the kicker: judicial restraint bad! No legislating from the bench! Well, if that's the way you're going to be…
The other is okay, nothing spectacular, but doesn't seem too bad. I'm not as clear where she stands on things, but her lack of vehement opposition to judicial activism makes her automatically better given nothing else to really compare on. Major parties and ideologues are always quick to denounce judicial activism in principle and in response to their opposition but often mum when it's their own guys. Really, they just don't want their opponents pushing an agenda they disagree with.
As a libertine, I'm all for judges bringin' the smackdown on bad laws. Judicial restraint and deference to congress basically cripples one leg of our three-leg government. Remember checks and balances? We need judges with balls in order to keep the legislature and president from overstepping their constitutional abilities. Unfortunately for us all they do so on a daily basis with nary a peep from judiciary. But I'll save this rant for a full treatment in the future sometime.
Well that about wraps it up, finally. Tomorrow morning I'll vote on my way to work. And after all of this election coverage, look forward to me getting all polemical on the virtues of rational ignorance and the pointlessness of voting in the coming week. When the country is focused most on voting I'll be there to remind you all that your vote doesn't matter.