Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mayor Plusquellic: a worthy choice for an 8th term

Has an entire generation passed since Don Plusquellic was first elected as Akron's mayor?  Remarkably, it has.  But who's counting? For the record, it happened in 1987 and has been happening ever since to the chagrin of his political foes as he surely plans to seek an 8th term this year.

Although the teetering maxim is that familiarity breeds contempt, in Plusquellic's case it has made him more secure in a high-risk job that can only  create some enemies along the way.  From potholes to hiring policies, from snow plows to budgets, from whispering campaigns to failed recall efforts, an  urban mayor's lot, like the policeman's in the H.M.S. Pinafore, is not a happy one on many days.

He has been called a bully, sometimes deservedly earned because of his  short temper and reputation as a single-minded visionary.  But what his opponents have never quite accepted is that someone who is looking at an 8th term has repeatedly won convincing support from voters who have found a lot to admire about their mayor.

And why not? The simple answer:  enlightened stability.  Cities can only survive as livable places if they offer  a reasonable amount of continuing day to day guarantees  of what is best  for their citizens.  Not an easy challenge.  But Akron has stood out in a disheveled modern urban environment thanks to Plusquellic's steady hand. Veteran Plain Dealer poliltical columnist Brent Larkin aptly put it  this way:
"Plusquellic is as ferocious and passionate a defender of his hometown as any mayor I've ever encountered.  Even some of his most outspoken detractors - not an especially small group - admit to harboring private fears about  the city's future when he is no longer mayor."
Detractors?  The mayor (read:the city) has had his hands full fending off the assaults on his policies by Federal Judge John Adams, a beneficiary of the mayor's biggest critic through the years, the frustrated and frustrating Republican chairman,  Alex Arshinkoff.  Time and again Adams  has slammed down the mayor's programs, only to be criticized for his decisions by higher courts. (The Beacon Journal accused Adams of an "absence of reason" and "mean spirit". That's a start.)

Adams has fairly well planted himself in the dark corner for  judicial decisions and it's likely to go on, at great expense to the city's taxpayers for the foreseeable future.  As you know, federal judgeships are cushy lifetime political jobs.

Finally,  any doubts that Plusquellic,  at 65, will go for the gold again have little standing on the streets or among  Democratic Party officials. When asked whether  the mayor will be back on the ballot this year, Party Chairman Jeff Fusco doesn't hesitate:  "I'm confident that he will be."

On the other side, Arshinkoff says he will again challenge the mayor , telling the BJ that it  will be some yet-unamed person.

Does the pool include former mayor Roy Ray?


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