I'm only mildly surprised by the results of yesterday's election. Carbondale's coalition of community-minded democrats and greens nearly won the election four years ago, when Cole squeaked through by a narrow margin of 17 votes. And now they're galvanized around a stronger candidate, with a famous name, friends in higher places, and a friendly face.
Now I don't mean to demean her demeanor, since Sheila Simon has always been cordial and helpful to me -- unlike the man she wants to replace as Mayor, Brad Cole, who has been nothing but attentive and cooperative.
You're thinking . . . "cordial and helpful" . . . "Attentive and cooperative" -- What's the diff? It's this: Not being otherwise employed -- and very well-organized -- Brad Cole had time to follow-up on many long-neglected aspects of Carbondale government and community. Conversations in casual meetings became full-fledged projects. He'd take my thoughts of promoting art in the community and -- working with Carbondale Community Arts -- made them a reality. The Bike 2 Work Day event is another example. The City Malpractice Solution.... The list goes on and on.... I should compile the full list of Cole's achievements in four years and things that are "in the works."
When I ran for City Council four years ago, I gave a lot of thought to what I could actually DO while in office, besides vote "yes" or "no" on zoning and financial issues, to make my contribution worthwhile. I wanted to be PROACTIVE, to take steps that would make a definite step in the right direction, "making Carbondale a better place to live and work." I made a list of ten goals: things I would work toward. Some seem rather jejune, based on what I know now, but still . . . .
I don't know why Sheila didn't do anything proactive while she sat at City Council for four years. Perhaps because she felt Brad would not cooperate with her, or maybe, between teaching law, regular council duties, and being an active, bike-riding mother of two, she didn't have time to come up with anything, or if she did, felt Cole would shoot it down.
Sheila and I have had good interactions and she made three suggestions to me since I've known her: 1) that I could fill a vacancy on the Energy Advisory Commission (not realizing I don't do committees, as a rule, with one exception. Nonetheless this was a good, proactive suggestion by Sheila, although directed at the wrong person. 2) she recommended that I speak to a certain woman who worked at a certain church about a certain project and this woman was unsuitable for collaboration, for several reasons, so I wasted time. 3) she made a good suggestion for Bike 2 Work Day (one that I had already done, but still -- I hope if she is elected Mayor that she will still support that project.)
My experience with Cole goes back to 2002, when he was a City Council member whom I selected at random to inquire about the possiblity of a public outdoor swimming pool (because I didn't know any of them, except Maggie Flanagan.) Cole was prompt and professional in his email response, which impressed me.
Brad has continued to impress, and occasionally surprise. But does he have what it takes to take the election? Have Simon supporters given it their best shot? With 1,214 votes, she got 359 more than Cole. On April 17 will our Mayor find an additional 360 voters -- or more -- who think he deserves reelection? (And how about that other date?)