ON A SLOW DAY FOR ELECTORAL TRAFFIC, 3rd BERKSHIRE DISTRICT CHOOSES A NEW REP; PLANET CALLS IT FOR TRICIA … PLUS … BEING GAY OR NOT GAY IS NOT A RECOMMENDATION OR A CONDEMNATION FOR PUBLIC OFFICE, BUT LEADERSHIP IS, SO: WHAT MAKES A GOOD LEADER?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, OCT. 18, 2011) — Election Day traffic seems light, with reports from a couple of precincts summing up business as “slow.” City Clerk Linda Tyer predicted a turnout of low 20s for the special election designed to name the new rep in the 3rd Berkshire District.
THE PLANET, a tad more optimistic, thinks maybe 10 percent higher, around 30%. Under that scenario, we can’t see a way that Tricia Farley-Bouvier loses today. We see the order of finish as TFB, Mark Miller, Pam Malumphy, Mark Jester. It would not surprise, though, to see Jester finish third or second.
Malumphy lost what little credibility she has as a viable candidate for public office when she attacked TFB for Tricia’s pro-life stance. Pummelin’ Pam made three goofs:
(1) The issue won’t be relevant until the federal government stops funding abortions as a woman’s right to choose and send the matters back to the states.
(2) The truculant tone she struck, in which she came across as the sterotypical emotional, shrill woman politician. This is unfair to other women. On the other hand, in her campaign appearances, Tricia has been pleasant, non-controversial, and solicitous. Many will respond positively.
(3) She cemented her fate as a Democrat without a party. She calls herself independent, but that’s only because the local Dems kicked her out. That might be a calling card for some, but in local politics, it’s not the traditional path top success. Let’s put it that way.
Miller simplydidn’t get enough exposure or opportunity to show off his talents in this quiet campaign, chief among them is a studious approach to issues, a characteristic left over from his days as a journalist. He asks the right questions and gives the right answers: “I don’t know, but let me try to find out” when he’s unfamiliar with the topic or direct answers when he is in the know, which is often. Miller has a political innocence about him that THE PLANET finds as his most compelling trait. He doesn’t comes off all slick and overly polished. He’s not overweight. Don’t laugh. Someone who takes good care of his body tends to be a good steward in most other respects as well.
Jester, if anyone bothered to check, proved much more than the “one issue candidate” that opponents tried to portray. If you go to his website, you find cogent answers to more than the gun lobby. He has outlined his positions on jobs creation, protecting small businesses, casino gambling, the elderly and disabled, and many more. He tends to respond to questions more directly than the typical politician.
For example, here’s Jester’s answer on casino gambling:
Casino Gambling: I’m asked a lot about the Casino Gambling Legislation. The legislature has been talking about casinos for over 2 years. Why? Because the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, who represents East Boston, wants to have a casino in East Boston. I say if that’s what they want in Boston then let them have it. I’m in favor of one casino for the state of Massachusetts at this time. I propose that a portion of the revenues coming to the state from the casino gambling be designated to go towards the state’s community colleges. Berkshire Community College is very important to the city of Pittsfield, and to the Berkshires, and it should not always be the last in line for state education funds.
Anyone who’s done their due diligence can’t complain about a lack of information. It’s not ideal and takes some hunting, but, yes, there was enough time and opportunity, even in this rush-rush, hurry-hurry special election, for voters to make an informed choice. If Tricia wins, then she gets the responsibility of office. THE PLANET will give her all due honors and expects from her all due results.
Turnouts continue to be a shame and an embarrassment to the democratic process. If only 20% turn out for an election, how can that in any way be considered a representative vote? The 80% who choose for whatever reason to stay away far better represent the political state of America, Massachusetts, Berkshire County, and Pittsfield than the 20% who do vote. Politics is dead.
Is that why guys got shot and killed on Omaha Beach on D-Day?
BEING GAY OR NOT DOESN’T MAKE A LEADER, SO WHAT DOES?
One of the Pittsfield mayoral candidates, Peter Marchetti, is openly gay and married to a man. That is a fact. Does that in any way sully his ability to serve as mayor? THE PLANET thinks not. Of course, neither is that a recommendation for the office. There are some, at least, for whom this is a deal breaker. In a democracy, we can’t deny ANY opinion or belief, something that kept the Founding Fathers up many a night.
A candidate’s sexuality crosses a personal line, but, then again, the office in question isn’t to run a private company. It’s to lead the citizens of Pittsfield. Public office makes a person and the person’s life fair game when voters consider their choices in any given election. The closed pages of one’s personal life become an open book.
What matters to you, as a voter, in a candidate? For THE PLANET, sexuality and gender matter not in the least, unless there’s a reason to believe that they would affect a person’s ability to do a good job. We haven’t seen that in Peter’s case.
For THE PLANET, the most important trait of a political leader is intelligence, good will, and independence. We see these as three related aspects of the same trait. One litmus test: Can the man (or woman) take a stand he believes in, even though it goes against popular widsom?
Traits of a Good Leader
Other important traits for a political leader, in our view:
* A genuine care for the job, a passion, if you will. That can’t be faked, though you can fool most of the people most of the time.
* A kindness in meeting and dealing with ordinary people. You can see it in the eyes.
* A commitment to excellence in everything the person does, from tying his shoes to negotiating contracts. Results speak for themselves.
* The ability to use reason and logic in the analysis of social problems. “What are your premises,” as Ann Rand would ask upon meeting someone for the first time.
* The ability to keep his head in a crisis, to react calmly and in a measured way. A leader is a “go to guy” in a crisis.
* The ability to take criticism. If the criticism is just, accept it and learn from it. If the criticism is unjust, don’t chase it. Let it fly away. In short, needed: A thick skin.
* Being able to entertain contradictions. Few things are black and white. Only yin and yang make a circle. The AND is important. OR doesn’t work.
* Having inner confidence. That can’t be faked, and one can usually tell.
* Good character.Is the person exemplary? Trustworthy? Honest? Do they lead by example?
Those are the criteria by which voters should make their choice between Dan Bianchi and Peter Marchetti. Realistically, it doesn’t work that way. There are political tensions that have carried over from 2009, when Jimmy Ruberto narrowly defeated Dan Bianchi. Many see this battle as the continuance of the feud between two political machines (simplistically, the Wotjkowski Machine (Bianchi) vs. the Del Gallo Machine (Marchetti). Most people will go into this election with their minds made up … two years ago.
If the race is narrow, the undecideds might become kingmakers, but that’s what elections are for, as we shall find out by the end of the day today.
HAVING JOURNEYED FROM A HOSPITAL BED AND REASONABLY ALERT, THE PLANET LEAVES YOU FOR THE MOMENT. BE WELL, AND …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.