Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Today's elections

As some commentators put it, it's an "off-off election," not associated with the national elections at all, so turnout tends to be significantly reduced.  This type of election separated from elections for national offices which normally increases turnout, derives from some of the political "reforms" of the Progressive Movement, which aimed to shift the primacy of voting from the "unwashed" (immigrants) to the educated.

But it comes at the expense of majority participation and tends to support elite and conservative interests.

In this election, only in Virginia and New Jersey do you have Governor's races.  But many localities have their elections during this cycle, including New York City and various counties in New York State, communities in Maryland, Boston, and Minneapolis, where a Socialist Alternative candidate is vying for a seat ("A Minneapolis socialist thanks the local paper for not endorsing her," The Nation; "Editorial endorsements: Reich and Bildsoe for Mpls. City Council," Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Also various measures (referenda) are on the ballot, such as a transportation funding vote in Maine and a proposal to call for a Constitutional Convention in New York State.

In Takoma Park, people tend to put literature on local activities, including the election, in the various Little Free Libraries that have been constructed around the city.

In College Park, Maryland, the election has been roiled by a proposal to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections ("Debate over noncitizen voting has upended College Park elections," Washington Post).

The City of Takoma Park, which borders DC, has its elections--a couple years ago they voted to lower the voting age to 16 years of age, but it hasn't had much impact on turnout--and at October's Street Festival most of the candidates had booths and were politicking. Annapolis and Frederick also have elections.

Campaign mailer sponsored by the New York Republican State Committee supporting Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County executive. Photo Credit: New York Republican State Committee. Also see "Martins defends MS-13 mailer against Curran; others cry foul," Newsday.

Interestingly, elections for Governor in Virginia, the Mayor's race in New York City ("Malliotakis Ad Hammers de Blasio on Quality of Life in New York," New York Times), and even for New York's Nassau County Executive race ("In New York Suburbs, Campaigns Are Anything but Genteel," NYT) have sought to paint Democratic nominees as soft on crime and abetting immigrant-fueled crime--the specter of the Salvadoran crime gang MS-13 has been raised in ads--even though national statistics find that crime is dropping, both in New York City--the murder rate is on track to be the lowest ever in the modern age of easy access to guns--and in the State of Virginia.

... Not that MS-13 isn't a problem, but it's not a scourge threatening society in the US (unlike in El Salvador where the flow of gang members from and to the US has led to a surge of crime and death in the home country), so the fear mongering is comparable to Newt Gingrich railing against the imposition of Sharia Law in the US as a way to stir people up over something that can't happen ("Newt Gingrich clarifies comments on Sharia law," USA Today).

I am not an ad guy, but I wonder how you would paint conservatives against gun control laws as soft on death.  Because there are plenty of people with grievances, who when armed, end up killing a lot of people.  Without guns, especially access to guns specifically designed to kill lots of people, they wouldn't be able to be so successful at murder.

Still, people will be looking at the election results to gauge what might happen with next year's mid-term national elections and various state elections in the Time of Trump. It appears that in New Jersey the Democratic candidate will win, after two terms of Republican Chris Christie, and Bill De Blasio appears to be sailing towards a decisive win, despite some grumblings about his governance and associations with corruption around access.

The Virginia election is likely to be close. The state is pretty evenly divided between parties and urban and rural interests, and the statewide elections for the US Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General tend to be close always, although shifting to Democrats over time.

Because the off-off year election depresses turnout, conservatives have an advantage in a Virginia, and if Ed Gillespie wins it will be seen as support for a Trump presidency, especially as Gillespie has employed Trump-like campaign tactics.

Malliotakis ad against Bill De Blasio, New York City

Ed Gillespie MS-13 ad, Virginia

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At 9:38 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

good read:

One of the toxic problems of of private money in campaigns is high profile races suck up the o2.

Also this:

Salvadorian gangs may be marginal - although the've had several high profile events. But as indicators of uncontrolled unskilled immigration -- yeah they work pretty well.

I don't know NZ politics, but I found it interesting their new labor leader wanted to ban sales to foreigners and also being characterized as "Anti-immmigraiton". I can't speak to the details there.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

will check out. You're definitely right that private money and to make a distinction, money external to the state, distorts things. It's not just the Kochs or the Mercers, but people contributing to alternative candidacies.

e.g., I got some fundraising email for a left candidate alternative to Dianne Feinstein. Yes, she's superannuated and probably shouldn't be running, but we shouldn't be focusing our precious dollars on her, but on fighting Trump and his fellow travelers.

Then again, concerted campaigning by DC people eventually got John McMillan defeated in South Carolina, so he could no longer run DC as the chair of the House of Representatives committee overseeing the city.

In a private email chain, we were discussing Maryland and someone asked about Jealous and I compared to Deval Patrick and L. Douglas Wilder, making the point that it's tough for white people to vote for people who are an outright challenge to the system. Obama was about hope and change, not black power...

I figure Rushern Baker might have a chance, but while Maryland is "liberal" the whites might not be liberal enough to vote for a Black governor. I don't think that's why Anthony Brown lost. He just wasn't particularly well known or visible, so he was a weak candidate.

wrt New Zealand, maybe Nigel will chime in...

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

the thing about MS 13 is what is interesting is the flow between the US and El Salvador in both directions, and how much of the violence was fomented civil war (including US participation in it) and how the creation of a culture of violence has been perpetuated.

... one of my next door neighbors is from El Salvador and her parents were part of the struggle (her father became Mayor of San Salvador, even ran for president, but lost) and we have talked about this.

... it's why I think the "citizenship culture" program of Anatanas Mockus when he was mayor of Bogota is interesting.

People in Central and South America come to the US with limited trust in government and limited experience with civil society initiatives because the various civil wars, coups, etc. (not unlike Russia and East European states)

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

to clarify what I mean by "the state" isn't "the state generally" but money from outside of Virginia or Maryland etc.

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: money.

I'm talking big money - the $100K checks and private jets.

That money -- in particular on the D side -- has been focused on presidential races.

Now the message is getting through that "Governors matter' but even in Northam wins you need to win the VA house and senate. And big money isn't interested in those races.

You raise an interesting point about the problem of crowd money -- and yes it is also very bad this cycle -that yahoo in Georgia is a great example but there are a lot more.

There the issue is the platform has too much power.

Your citizenship argument is the same as what people in 1900 said about the Irish in NYC and the various machines there.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Yes, off-off elections are about disenfranchisement, then of immigrants. I was sloppy in writing if you equated the Progressive Movement initiatives with Antanas Mockus and citizenship culture.

Mockus' (and his first name is Antanas, I spelled it wrong) citizenship
culture isn't so much about _citizens_ as opposed to "non-citizens" as much as it is about "do unto others as you would have others do unto you." The use of the word "citizen" is very different in the two contexts.

Separately but an allied approach, you have the "social urbanism" mission in Medellin, where to build a stronger sense of community, reduce crime, improve social inclusion, they improved transportation connections and the array of civic assets present in neighborhoods that were underserved or disconnected due to topography.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

re big money not interested in state campaigns. Not necessarily true, it just depends on what issues are up, and the general tenor of the state. cf. ALEC, various Koch initiatives, etc. If the state legislature weren't reliably conservative in Virginia probably capital would get more involved?

At 12:24 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: Money -- sorry, I mean D money.

The Republicans have long put both big and small dollars into state races -- hence the results.

Until 2004, the R's were far far ahead in small donor donation programs.

At 5:50 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Um. ok. Yes. And the Rs were definitely focused on controlling state legislatures in advance of Census-related redistricting.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Charlie said...

Off topic.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Really really important. Thank you for finding and sharing! I will have to add this to my future writings on best practice and incorporating this into planning processes "more better."

2. appropo of nothing, but speaking of vancouver ...


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