Fighting city hall….Please

There’s been a story running around the web about the Mayor of the town of Wellford, South Carolina who prohibited the town’s police officers from engaging in foot pursuits of criminals at any pace faster than a casual stroll.  The mayor presents as a crackpot.  I would think such a story as an aberration if we hadn’t had a similar case just down the street not to long ago.  The City of Overland, Missouri had a mayor, Ann Purzner, who came into office and proceeded to try and run the city as a fiefdom – appointing city officials at a whim in clear violation of civil service rules, and other things.  The city council meetings, normally quiet boring get togethers in city hall would draw crowds that blocked the street.  It’s how you could tell it was Monday night.  Lackland Avenue was hosting a Tea Party before Tea Parties had a name.  The meetings finally had to be moved to a large auditorium to contain the crowds of outraged citizens.  A successful recall campaign ended the Reign of Terror.

Why is this?  What causes these nutcases to get mayoral offices?  I believe it is because many towns hold mayoral elections on non-main election days.  It’s hard enough to get big turnouts for any election besides presidential ones.  But try and get a big turnout in April or some other odd month besides November.  The low turnout results in the crackpots getting all of the votes of their relatives and cronies and the habitual party purists.  People who don’t know them don’t bother to vote.  I think Overland had like a 10% turnout when Purzner was elected.

So I think local elections should coincide with the big national elections.  It is the time of year when people care about such things.


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