Friday, October 05, 2007

Racial Politics

A forum was held last night for all 15 Asheville city council candidates at the Brown Temple CME Church and was sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of Women Voters.

This forum was thoroughly worthless. The sponsors invited them there to talk about race, race, and race. The questions went “round-robin” style so each candidate got to answer about two random questions; all of which were the same: How do you plan to use government to pander to Blacks?

I didn’t learn anything new about the candidates; except that Donna whats-its is more out-to-lunch than Brother Chris.

Anyway, I had already voted the day before. Still, I wanted to see what kind of political forum would be conducted in a Christian church…


…and I was interested in hearing the oh-so-smooth, political answers to the same reformulated question.

  1. Donna whats-its (D) uses a wheelchair. She's mad about down-ramps. Not racial.
  2. Steve Bledsoe (U) announced that he also belongs to a minority: He’s gay. His tortured, pandering answers were so bizarre that I winced on several occasions; e.g. He suggested that customers should all pay the same amount at the different stores downtown (huh?) and suggested that there is no race problem which prompted a dressing-down from Sullivan. (Bledsoe loses this round.)
  3. Dwight Butner (U) was pretty good but off his game. He touted his business acumen.
  4. Christopher Chiaromonte (U) was a no show, no call. He's homeless. I drove around Pritchard Park and Haywood looking for Brother Christopher, thinking he might need a ride, but I couldn’t find him.
  5. Jan Davis (D) had good answers to a lot of bad questions. He got a pass. He always does.
  6. Bryan Freeborn (D) thought Black Christians would be impressed with his stand on buses. I take it they were not.
  7. Matt Hebb (R) was nervous but affable. He scored points for reminding us that he runs a 24-hour business downtown and hears from the public on a variety of issues. Good listening skills could help close the loop.
  8. Bobby Johnston (R) was a no show. He must be relieved.
  9. Elaine Lite (D) did a good job but this was not her crowd. She has little to offer a church group obsessed with race. The environment? - not race. Growth and Development? - not race. She was merely tolerated.
  10. William Meredith (U) answered all questions correctly. Except when he said he could fire police officers.
  11. Brownie Newman (D) was typically warm and unflappable and handled the occasion with aplomb. He’s a seasoned pol and made no mis-steps. His answers were knowledgeable and he didn’t laugh at the other candidates who don’t understand the role of city council. And he had notes. (Newman ties for first in this round.)
  12. Bill Russell (R) made no memorable comments. His style is unassuming, kindly and ‘everyman’ — which leaves a blank space where a candidate should be.
  13. Lindsey Simerly (U) connected with the audience. She stands out from the others as an oddball with a heart of gold. She’s honest and approachable and has a winning delivery. She’s smart and principled but does need to bone up on some broader issues. And she’s so left-leaning that she needs a reinforced walker.
  14. Selina Sullivan (R) is a Black female Republican. A curiosity for this crowd. Sullivan made it clear that she's a church-going faithful. She gets a pass.
    [UPDATE 10/5, 04:38 PM: Sullivan drops out.]
    [UPDATE 10/8, 1:45 pm: Sullivan is back in the race.
  15. Dee Williams (U) wowed the crowd. She’s a strong speaker and an impressive character. Her delivery is confident and animated; hiking her suit, shifting and cocking her head to punctuate her points. She took unapologetic pains to point out that she’s an accomplished Black female. She told me personally that if she doesn’t make the cut this time she’ll be back. I believe her. I believe her. (Williams ties with Newman in this round.)

This pale circus ended with an advertisement for the NAACP and an impassioned ‘appeal to emotion’ regarding racial injustice accompanied by the requisite “Alelueah’s” from the audience.

I miss the real debates of times past.