Thursday, November 01, 2007

Decision 2007-Springfield Mayoral Race...

For the Mayor of Springfield, Western Mass Politics and Insight endorses Jason Varitek.

But seriously, folks.

Election Day in the Pioneer Valley is steadily approaching. All of the candidates are spending their final remaining hours as candidates in the hope of becoming elected officials. As WMassP&I has explained before this election season is pivotal for the city of Springfield. As such to avoid distraction, endorsements will be broken up in three separate postings. Today Springfield Mayor, next Springfield City Council, and then if there is anything contentious to talk about miscellaneous city/town elections. It is not my intention to look down on other area communities, but Springfield's future may hinge more so on these elections and the succeeding ones than any other in recent memory in or out of Springfield.

Anybody who reads this blog should not be surprised who will receive WMassP&I's first mayoral endorsement. This race has been more contentious than the one that came before it. The incumbent faced numerous challenges since 2005 and in particular since this year began. Many such challenges have sullied his name. Still, his challenger has been unable to provide any real alternatives.

Domenic Sarno has served on the City Council for a long time. However, he is horribly tainted by his years during the previous administration when the Council was little more than a rubber stamp. His solutions offer a populist appeal, but lack wisdom and timing. They do nothing to move the city past the entrenchment and inertia that has dogged it for nearly 20 years. There is a very real fear among city residents and leaders of the nascent reform efforts in the city that a Sarno administration would only open the floodgates once more, despite the Control Board's work, and leave our city in ruin again.

In 2003 and into 2004 after the election, WAQY radio personalities Michael A. "Bax" Baxendale and John O'Brien offered referred to the once and future mayor Charles Ryan as "Uncle Charley." In tribute to the character of the same name from the show My Three Sons, "Bax & O'Brien" would play the theme from that show. The entire process contributes to a persona of an old man who better fits the title "Grandpa" than "Mayor." Indeed he was thought to be out of date and out of touch. I personally did not support him and urged people to do the same.

I was wrong. (You may want to mark that on the calendar or something).

Mayor Charles Ryan has proven himself as an apt city manager and tireless advocate for the city. He knew from the get-go that reform could only happen in the City with direct state intervention. Removing the power from the past administration's flunkies on the Council, and as a member of the Control Board, he guided the city back from the fiscal brink. Granted these successes were not done alone. The Control Board played a huge part in it. However, he completely immersed himself into the job and with the FCB Executive Directors, Phil Puccia, and later Stephen Lisauskas, real progress was made in the city. By using all forms of technology at his disposal he has transcended his age and did not allow it to be a deterrent in his efforts to right the city. Above all, his credibility and honesty are above reproach. Therefore, WMassP&I endorses Mayor Charles Ryan for re-election.

In many ways, Ryan, will always maintain that "Uncle Charley" persona. It is comforting for some and coupled with the results over the past four years, quite befitting, if you know the show. He is not perfect, but this once and future mayor's dedication is unimpeachable. He deserves and must be the Mayor the City of Springfield one more time.

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