Monday, June 27, 2011

Akron mayoral race: a quiet beginning

AS EVERYONE must know by now, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has a quick temper that has flared occasionally during his 24 year-career at City Hall. It's what led him to complain to the bosses at Station WAKR a few weeks ago about a question at a news conference by one of the radio station's few reporters. To be sure, it was an unwise political move at the start of his campaign for a seventh term, though not that uncharacteristic of the mayor when he heats up.

The story was exhaustively reported by the Beacon Journal's Bob Dyer, who not only sympathized with WAKR's news director Ed Esposito (who seldom deserves sympathy from anyone) but also suggested that the mayor might possess a Nixon-like enemies list. That was hardly a match inasmuch as Nixon's notorious list included some of the most highly respected journalists in the country.

Otherwise the campaign has been short on public viewing as both sides prepare for whatever skirmishes lie ahead. His leading Democratic primary opponent is Akron at-large Councilman Mike Williams, a perennial critic of Plusquellic and whose campaign motto is a less than stirring "It's time". So we must assume these quiet moments will precede some skirmishes before the Sept. 13 Democratic primary election. (They're scheduled for an Aug. 8 Press Club debate.) I do know that with a 95 pct. recognition rate, the mayor won't have to wear a name tag in front of his audiences. I also know that it will will require more than criticism of Plusquellic's decorum to defeat him.

Somebody has been coming after him for 24 years while he's successfully presided over a pretty good city. Indeed, Brent Larkin, the retired Plain Dealer editorial page editor who has seen his share of come-and-go mayors in his own city has gone so far as to write that Plusquellic is "by far, Ohio's best big-city mayor."

Although this is Williams' first bid to unseat him, the councilman has been trying to build a case against him for a long time. Williams even refused to oppose the recall in 2009. The mayor survived the test handily.

And, to no one's surprise, the latest challenge has drawn the usual suspects, including Akron lawyer Warner Mendenhall, who led the recall campaign. You can find him without much effort wearing an "It's time" campaign button. This being a democracy, you can expect him to be quite active in the race. And, as always in Plusquellic's six terms, Alex Arshinkoff, the Republican chairman, will be in the wings trying to encourage a lightning-strike in September by whatever means that present themselves.

As of now, it is, in the words of that great linguist, Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again

1 comment:

Mencken said...

At the top of Mendenhall's web page there is this quote:
"Fairness, Justice, and Freedom are more than words, they are perspectives", which is from the film "V for Vendetta". Spoken by the main character wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, the line is in reference to defending an act of anarchy.

I have to wonder if Warner pictures himself in some romantic light as some sort unpopular but well intentioned savior of Akron's citizens. Hard to say, but there's still a party going on in Warner's head.