At the JCC Forum the other night, I was most impressed with Jerry Maynard. Megan Barry continued to stake out a strong position in support of the real choices that we must make if if our public schools are really the priority almost all of the candidates seemed to say there were, but Jerry Maynard did two things that moved me incredibly:
First, he put forward a specific, simply, affordable, and workable plan to improve educational outcomes. His individual strategic plan, signed by parents, and supported by a mentor scholarship program is the kind of idea that only someone with real experience working with at-risk youth could possibly advance. His grasp of the situation is solid, and his clear ideas show that he will be a Council member (would that he could be Mayor) whom we can count on to solve problems rather than passing the blame for them.
Second, and more significantly, Maynard was the only candidate that I heard to say that the City Council can do more than pay the bills for the schools. He said the Council should lead....LEAD. I have been writing here for quite awhile begging candidates who want to occupy city office to shoulder the genuine responsibility for leadership on the education issue.
What we mostly get is lip service..."I am the education candidate; education is my top priority," without a genuine and inspiring willingness to say, "I want the job because I want to be held accountable for the success of our public schools." That's powerful, and the city will get behind that kind of approach.
Many of the other candidates for the at-large seats literally said they would like to help schools, but all they can do is pass the budget. That's pretty hard to turn into an inspiring position supporting a property tax referendum if that were to be necessary. In fact, it is the same old conservative position that protects an individuals political stature at the expense of our city's children. When the Council members say, "We just pass the budget," it is a short leap in logic to the conclusion that they want people to believe the school board and district are solely responsible if schools fail. Mayor's by the way, can easily play this same game by implicitly allowing blame to fall on the school board, thereby justifying further (and more popular) tax reductions at the expense of kids.
Passing blame is only useful for protecting the political fortunes of individual politicians. Passing good public policy requires leadership, sacrifice, and risk-taking. That's why Jerry Maynard is the best mayoral candidate I have seen since the end of the first round. I guess, Mayoral stature on the City Council won't be all bad.
How does a write-in campaign go?