BEFORE THIS SEASON of discontent is over, maybe a politician somewhere will rise to the microphone and say this:
“Why am I running for office? Because I need the money and a boost to my ego.
“Oh, I can promise you this and promise you that. You won’t get it. But I’ll have a steady gig and be able to pay off my bar tab.
“I can’t repair all the roads and I’ll never solve gridlock. What do I care? I’ll have a chauffeured limo with a siren. I can be at the track in no time.
“And whatever you do, don’t trust me. My campaign slogan is ‘Elect Me and I’ll Get Mine.’ With any luck, I’ll get yours, too.”
OK, don’t expect to hear that speech this year or century. Besides, asking a candidate to be completely honest could open the door to boring introspection and endless personal confessions. Do we really want to see the scars from their last operations?
Still, compared to the reliable campaign traditions of lying, cheating, and stealing to get elected, this has been an exceptional time of political honesty, particularly in the Seattle mayoral race.
This Sunday, for example, mayoral candidate Scott Kennedy has invited the public to watch him work, eat, and sleep on the roof of his headquarters building. There observers can, in his words, “see for yourself that this candidate has nothing to hide.” (He’s young, he’ll learn.)
Likewise, could Omari Tahir-Garret, the mayoral candidate who allegedly clobbered incumbent Paul Schell with a bullhorn, have been more candid about what kind of City Hall he’d run?
Don’t like the building department’s rules? Whack! Think the parks budget has too much fat? Blam! Object to that parking ticket, do you? Clunk!
Try to picture Mayor Omari getting excited at a ribbon cutting—scissors in hand.
Similarly, fellow mayoral candidate Richard Lee revealed so much on the campaign trail that we were forced to avert our eyes.
The public-access TV host likes to talk conspiratorially to himself on camera while he is videotaping the inner sanctum of his nostrils. He is also certain that Kurt Cobain was murdered and didn’t commit suicide like anyone else married to Courtney Love would.
At campaign appearances, he stands on chairs and usually answers questions only by talking to his camera microphone, apparently to keep other candidates from pirating his cool answers.
But he did let it all hang out at a recent candidate’s forum, where he arrived draped in a clingy, formfitting purple dress. He looked fetching, considering that his main accessory was a bushy mustache. He lost the locker room vote at the Washington Athletic Club but won the heart of any other office-seeking drag queen.
Mayoral hopeful Greg Nickels may have showed us too much as well. That seemed the case after he announced his “Rapid Response Incident Team.” No, not to mop up chemical spills or handle that cleanup on aisle three. Nickels’ team, costing $1 million, would be comprised of tow truck drivers and traffic officers, deployed at “choke points” to respond to rush-hour accidents. Too bad that at rush hour in Seattle, nothing moves, tow trucks included.
After seemingly disappearing down a urine-stained alley, Mark Sidran belatedly reappeared and exposed his ace election strategy, bad-mouthing Sound Transit’s light-rail plan (what’s he going to knock next, the Vietnam War?). Paul Schell was likewise revealing his other side—as a tough decision maker—by suddenly deciding he needed to call more press conferences (that session in the rain, announcing the drought was over, was a good one). And mayoral candidate Charlie Chong unveiled himself as a movie critic of sorts, likening a “Hoss” Nickels candidacy to a Bonanza rerun and a Sidran candidacy to a Stephen King movie (leaving us to guess at what epitomizes the Schell candidacy—Return of the Living Dead or Apocalypse Now?).
Piero Bugoni seemed sincere enough when he disclosed that, as mayor, he would “personally grade homework from public schools.” And perennial candidate Bob Hegamin was almost confessional as he said about his efforts to reform government, “I have been concerned about it for the past 30 years, but I just can’t get elected to do anything about it.”
In the end, it seems we don’t need brutal honesty—everyone may have revealed too much already. At the least, we know enough to understand what candidate/bartender Caleb Schaber means when he says, frankly, “Vote for me. You could do a lot worse.”