Jeffrey at Daytonology made a nice comparison of me to Harvey Milk. I’m glad someone sees the similarities.
Like Harvey Milk David Esrati has run multiple times for office. In the case of Harvey Milk, though, the election law was changed in San Francisco to bring back ward elections, meaning Harvey Milk finally won an election. If there would be a similar change in Dayton we could well see David Esrati win an election, too. As it stands, the current election law in Dayton mandates at-large elections, diluting the impact of neighborhood activists and grass roots politics, as it did in San Francisco.
And Harvey Milk finally ended up with the endorsment of one of San Fransciscos two major daily newspapers.
Milk did give a glimpse of the dynamics of power in a system of ward elections via the Dan White/Harvey Milk relationship. One can see how votes and issues work differently, as neighborhood interests become more important and have to be balanced against city interests. It’s messy and requires more negotiation and political skill. But is this perhaps preferable to a system that de-emphasises the importance of the neighborhood and community in favor of a more abstract board of directors concept designed to diffuse and limit the citizens voice?
I still believe in grassroots independent political thought. However, in my past runs for office, I’ve done few of the “traditional” things that it takes to get elected. It was only in my fourth run that I accepted campaign money, and I’ve never had a campaign manager. No matter the strength of your ideas, in local politics, the strength of your organization is what wins elections. It’s why the Montgomery County Democrats can run people without ideas, experience, or as it turns out aptitude (Nan Whaley, Matt Joseph, never mind old blowhards like Dick Zimmer, or failures like Bootsie Neal who never introduced anything meaningful in 3 terms).
Dean Lovelace pushed hard for districts in Dayton, before I helped him beat Judy Orick and Mary Sue Kessler by siphoning just enough votes off either established name in a special election to replace Mark Henry who resigned mid term. After getting elected, you never heard another word from Lovelace on the issue.
I believe our main problem with Dayton government besides small-minded pettiness and the elected politicians’ desire to constantly usurp the city manager’s role (he’s the CEO, not the Mayor) is that we haven’t had a voice that understands the City Manager form of Government. The commission jobs are part-time for a reason- and we need to find more people who understand that.
The reason I got involved in politics in the first place, was not one of ego, or an aspiration of a career in politics- but purely out of frustration. In fact, I believe that frustration is the catalyst for change in all things- and it seems that the people of Dayton just move out to the suburbs instead of trying to fight the machine. Even Mike Turner bailed from Dayton the moment it no longer served him. So much for the uber urbanist cred he tries to wear like a cheap suit.
This coming election, with our city in dire financial straits, and with no clear goals in sight, it’s time for a change. I’ll need a lot of help. The question is whether the people of Dayton are ready. We don’t have districts like San Francisco has, and the party will be backing Nan Whaley, Joey Williams and Mayor McLin.
It will also be a cold day in hell before the Dayton Daily News endorses me. Hell, if they would read my site, they wouldn’t get scooped by 5 days on a no-bid contract with the DPS.
Maybe I need to change my sexual orientation to get elected? (note: it’s not likely)