Dependable Erection

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Memo to Farad Ali

I understand your reasoning behind running as an unaffiliated candidate for City Council. But i think you're misinterpreting what "non-partisan" means in terms of municipal elections:
City Council elections are deemed “non-partisan”, meaning it is the responsibility of the candidates to represent themselves without the bias of political party affiliation, explaining their own individual merits and qualifications and demonstrating why they should be elected to represent and serve the citizens of Durham.

I don't consider political party affiliation to represent a "bias," and i have to say it's a bit of an affront to encounter someone running for office who does. I've been a voter for over 25 years, a party member for about 15, and an active member for about the last 6. It's not a question of "bias" that led me to the Democratic party. Rather, it has been a combination of factors, on the one hand, the relentless fear-mongering tactics practiced by Republicans at all levels of government (see, for instance, the Kansas school board elections of the past decade, as well as our own current mayoral elections, if you don't want to look at elections at the national level), on the other the general disingenuousness of those claiming to be "above the fray" and looking to find some sort of "middle ground" between the two extremes of partisanship.

Non-partisan, as it relates to our municipal elections, means that party activists do not get to select the candidates in a party primary. It means that there's no straight ticket voting option available at the polls. But it doesn't mean that not being a party member is, or should be, considered advantageous by the voters of Durham.

I've been able to develop a vision of what i think civic life and good citizenship, not to mention a thriving community and a just society, might look like. That vision doesn't fall "somewhere in between" the visions espoused by the two major parties. But the Democratic party vision comes the closest to my own. So choosing to work with people who, as much as can reasonably be expected in the real world, share my vision, is not an indicator of bias on my part. It's a commitment to working together with like-minded folks to implement and bring to fruition a common goal.

I don't see "being able to work with Republicans" as a benefit at this point in time. The vision articulated by the Republican party, especially by its mayoral candidate Thomas Stith in the current Durham campaign, is anathema to me. And, i suspect, to a great many members of the community. There has been nothing in Mr. Stith's campaign or agenda that i'd wish to see enacted in this community.

And that's why i'll be voting for David Harris on November 6.

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  • Well-said. This is must-reading for anyone who typically votes Democratic who's on the fence between Ali and Harris.

    By Blogger toastie, at 1:57 PM  

  • Farad is full of crap.

    If partisanship didn't matter to him, he wouldn't be running around telling everybody he's going to change his party affiliation after the election, and his wife would not have switched her party affiliation recently to Democrat from Republican. He's playing the game, trying to get elected.

    Here's another thing about him that bugs me: his voting record.

    Here's Bill Bell
    Here's Diane Catotti
    Here's Eugene Brown
    Here's David Harris

    And OK, here's Thomas Stith

    I'm sorry, but if you don't care enough to participate by voting, then you don't care enough to participate as an elected official. Come back in a couple of years, Farad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 PM  

  • S'cuse me--this is Farad's voting record.

    I posted somebody's twice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:36 PM  

  • I think anonymous has linked to the incorrect voting history record for Ali, as it appears to be identical with that of the one he has linked to for Thomas Stith.

    I must confess, i had no idea this sort of information was a matter of public record, but with a couple of clicks i was able to see my own voting history as well.

    You're able to do your own search here.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 2:39 PM  

  • Am I the only person around who thinks that any such information being public is fundamentally undemocratic and a huge violation of one's right to privacy?

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 6:58 PM  

  • I dunno if it bothers me that it's public record who has voted, as long as the ballot choices themselves remain secret.

    Barry... I understand where you're coming from in this. But frankly, I have a problem imagining a world in which I would ever only vote for someone because they're a Democrat, just because I am a Democrat.

    Am I a fan of what the GOP is doing nationally? No. Certainly no GWB loving here, either.

    But if I were living in Charlotte last year, would I have voted for a Republican over Jim Black? You bet your sweet butt I would have.

    I'm personally most interested (as I said over at my place recently) in having Council members and a mayor who reflect my values, but who also have the skills and knowledge to manage a multi-hundred million dollar enterprise. I say this not in support or detriment of any candidate, but to note that I am personally more concerned with candidates having that skill set than what their party registration is.

    Now, there are exceptions at the margins -- I'd be unlikely to support an extreme right-winger no matter how 'capable' they might be. But I'm also not one to hew to a straight-party ticket, either.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 8:36 AM  

  • i don't know that i would have voted for Jim Black either, but i would definitely not have voted for his Republican opponent.

    First year i was a delegate to the county convention, there was a motion to censure Jim Black, and maybe even to call for his resignation. (i don't recall the details.) i voted in favor, but it was pretty soundly defeated, and as a result, the party did not get out in front of an issue that could still be very damaging. Corruption is corruption regardless of where it is found, and i certainly wouldn't claim that Democrats are immune.

    But in the case of a good Democrat running against someone who is claiming that being unaffiliated, in and of itself, is a bonus, i've gotta go with the Democrat.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 9:08 AM  

  • But what exactly is the reason that voting records are public? If there isn't a very good reason to violate privacy, why should it be acceptable?

    I believe that what I do in my spare time is no one's business but my own (unless, of course, I hurt others by my actions). None of that information should be public, or even recorded for that matter, without a very good reason for doing so.

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 9:17 AM  

  • I agree with Kevin. Crazy Victoria is the best example. She declared Democrat but was homophobic and pro-life, how does that work?

    My support of Ali as a candidate is for some of the same reasons Kevin highlighted. His business expertise is something no one else running has to offer. For me, I hate politics and politians, Ali comes across as being different and I think that he will bring a different perspective to the city management than has been there previously, and I think we need that.

    I dont care about his voting record, up til recently I was an appathetic voter because I figured govt ran itself but after seeing what happend in the last national election I have decided to get involved to establish change....maybe Ali is doing the same only on a grander scale.

    I think Ali brings the best of the community activist mentality, but he has the business mind that is needed to manage the city...i dont think anyone else has that combination.

    By Anonymous golden, at 9:20 AM  

  • We expect our candidates to make more of their financial records public than we do "regular" citizens, so i'm not sure that i have a problem with knowing whether or not a candidate has been a participant in the electoral process. It may be a determining factor for some voters as to who they will cast a ballot for.

    Should information about whether or not a person is registered to vote, or has voted in past elections, be easily accessible? I'm not sure about that. It would be interesting to hear from someone at BoE, or at the state level as to the reasoning behind making this information readily available.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 9:29 AM  

  • Drilling further into the records database, i see that if you know the person's birthdate, you can find their address. That's definitely not a good idea.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 9:31 AM  

  • I can see the argument for making a candidate's record available, but surely that should be a matter of choice for the candidate? Wouldn't that be a better indicator of participation and trustworthiness?

    I think that if it was a matter of choice, candidates would most likely reveal their records. Those who wouldn't (and who wouldn't provide a good justification for not doing so) would lose votes.

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 9:58 AM  

  • Well, Golden-- if you are voting for Farad Ali I hope you will vote for David Harris, too -- Harris has the perfect skill set for the City Council (he's been doing the job for years as it is) and the City Council is a pretty tough job -- it requires someone who will really roll up their sleeves and stick to it. Harris would be great at that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:14 AM  

  • I've generally thought of myself as a yellow dog democrat, but I have to say I'm becoming less a purist over the years. The best candidate can have any of a variety of characteristics depending on the time and place (although I've never found them in a republican). In this particular time and place I think leadership is a critically needed quality, and I believe Farad brings that... I also believe he has the right skillset and experience.

    David Harris may be a great guy and an asset to the community, but did anyone ever consider the possibility that perhaps his greatest use is to continue doing exactly what he's been doing? I don't know him, so I wouldn't presume to say that IS true, but I would posit that it MAY be true. If he has done such good work as an activist/organizer I am all for heaping praise upon him, but I don't see elected office as some sort of reward, like the cliched gold watch for years of service.

    I gotta say, Stith's disgusting campaign takes the cake, but the party politics I'm seeing in this blog are a little disheartening. Between Stith, Barry, toastie and the ever-popular anonymous, I don't think Farad needs to do much of anything to show that being unaffiliated in and of itself, is a bonus.

    By Blogger mybigheaddog, at 11:35 PM  

  • Sorry that you find party politics "disheartening." I must confess i find it equally disheartening to see my work here being compared to Thomas Stith.

    But to each his or her own.

    I don't believe that David Harris should be on council as some sort of reward for his work over the past 20 or so years. I believe that council needs more neighborhood voices of the kind that David has been over those years.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 11:45 PM  

  • Barry, I probably over-stated my case last night. I was just doing some bedtime blogsurfing and I may have read more into what you were saying than you really said. Let me re-state a couple of things... First, I disagree with your assertion that party affiliation doesn't represent a bias. A quick look at wikipedia finds this: "A bias is a prejudice in a general or specific sense, usually in the sense for having a preference to one particular point of view or ideological perspective."

    I believe that as a Democrat I am biased toward a particular ideology. You may feel that you are not, although I would counter that your writings would lead me to believe otherwise.

    You imply that anyone who says they are seeking some "middle ground" between the two parties is disingenuous, and I think that's unfair. I give Farad credit for trying to define a path that is attuned to his personal values and beliefs.

    The tone of some of the comments in response to your post are offensive to me, specifically those of "anonymous." My personal experience in discussing party affiliation with Farad is that in every group setting people push him to define himself relative to one party or another and in some cases where someone has continued to push (I've witnessed this), he has ended up disclosing prior and probable future Democratic affiliations. Not exactly "running around telling everybody." I experienced it more as him trying to keep the dialogue about specific ideas and finally giving in to someone's obvious need to frame it in their own terms.

    If Farad's campaign was all about "playing the game" he could have just stuck with us Democrats. We are after all, living in the "blue dot" of NC.

    By Blogger mybigheaddog, at 10:06 AM  

  • I'm not a big fan of anonymous commenting in general, and some of the folks who stop by here say things that i wold not say, but i don't want to get into the position of approving some people's comments while blocking others. That would imply that some comments are endorsed by DE, which is not the case.

    All comments are the responsibility of those posting them. I will only delete comments that reveal personal identifying information about private citizens.

    As to your other point, about biases, i feel after 30+ years of participation in civic life, the conclusions i've reached about the way i think things should be are reasonable, defensible, and based on real world experience. I guess we disagree as to whether or not that constitutes a bias.

    Regarding political differences, i have to say i agree with what Atrios has continued to articulate on this issue, namely that there are real, fundamental differences between the parties, and that wisdom, not to mention good policy, is not always found by staking out some compromise position in the middle. Politics is not always about compromise. In many cases it's about power. Republicans have understood and internalized this fact extemely well over the past 40 years.

    Democrats, not so much.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 10:38 AM  

  • Being willing to work through issues by virtue of having an open mind to both sides does not necessarily mean compromise. Listening to Farad speak he seems to want the BEST for the city...and I take that as if something that a Republican presents or supports makes sense to him, he will be open to it..even if it is from "the other side". I like to think we should all be that way, be it about religion or politics or our day to day jobs. Sometimes people get so caught up in the titles that they cant see the good works or ideas.
    I am a bleeding heart tree hugging liberal democrat...but I like some of what Ron Paul and John McCain have to say...and best believe if it had come down to Victoria Peterson and Melodie Parrish in a final vote I would have taken Ms Parrish just on the fact she doesnt seem crazy.
    Farad has lived in this community his whole life and opted to change careers from being a banker to working for a non-profit supporting economic development...that speaks volumes about his character, in my opinion. David Harris seems like a nice guy, but he isnt even working right now according to his candidate profile and being a nice guy does equate to true leadership.

    By Anonymous golden, at 2:30 PM  

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