After the first mud-rasslin' match that had people asking for their money back (aka, the gubernatorial race), the race for Carbondale strikes me as having one key quality that so many races lack anymore: The candidates are solid, qualified contenders.
Mayor Cole has done a pretty remarkable job running a city. He's made some tough decisions (razing American Tap comes to mind). He's showed he has the capability to listen to community input - anyone sitting through marathon council sessions that ultimately spared the Eurma C. Hayes Child Care Center can attest to that. He's also been progressive in his ideas, including encouraging smoke-free bars by providing a monetary incentive but not making a move to clear the smokers out. He's a Republican even we lefties can appreciate, and he's got what seems to be a pretty solid constituent base eager to see him back in the city hall.
Sheila Simon, on the other hand, has consistently been one of the most thoughtful members of the city council. She makes solid decisions, explains her rationale and is willing to ask city staff and community members for their input when presented with a problem. While Cole has the incumbent status rolling behind him, she's got the last name of a bow-tied legend and has done much to live up to it.
Although she's admittedly a newbie and not one of the race's heavy hitters, Jessica Davis seems to have some solid ideas on how to get things done. Anyone who's willing to tackle a book with a topic as sweeping as violence, war and death in the United States can't be too quick to shy away from a challenge, right?
I'm curious to see if the race turns ugly. With so many qualifications under their respective belts, it's going to be hard for Cole and Simon especially to push themselves much farther up.