Sanford City Council Election: It got weird

One of my favorite lines from any of the Austin Powers movies happens after Dr. Evil and Frau Farbissina finally “do the deed” after Dr. Evil ingests some “Mojo.” Following their romp, Dr. Evil admits, “It got weird, didn’t it?”

That’s how I’m feeling about the city council elections in Sanford, which end today when approximately 13 to 17 percent of Sanford’s registered voters go to the polls today (statistics according to the Board of Elections).

I say “it got weird” because during these past two weeks, it’s changed from a race between candidates to a race between political parties … all of this happening in a non-partisan election.

Examples of the weirdness:
• We’ve got current city councilmen sending out e-mails claiming a candidate wants to “cut the arts” (I ask, how is that possible when it’s always a 6-1 vote?).
• We’ve got a Democratic mayor campaining for two Republicans and a Democrat who’s not sure which party line he’s with.
• We’ve got one candidate who claims I called her a bad word aloud DURING a forum that my newspaper was hosting (yes, that would have been classy of me, San Diego).
• We’ve got candidates who brandish cupcake stickers with a line through them, a symbolic middle finger toward The Herald’s publisher simply because he disagrees with some of their decisions.
• We’ve got a “grassroots” group coming in a week before the election that claims to be non-partisan, but buys advertising to support the candidates with Republican agendas.

Welcome to Sanford politics.

If I’ve learned one thing in my nine months in Sanford, it’s this — people will immediately develop a perception of you no matter what you do. I’ve been called a “liberal ass” by at least one person because of “leftist” propaganda we’ve printed (in other words, our Latino series) and because we cut Ann Coulter for being the word the aforementioned candidate claims I called her.
I’ve also been called a right-wing Nazi for my stance on a few political issues here, such as the golf course and business privilege tax.

Do you want to now what I really am? I’m a guy who loves sports, would much rather watch a Dallas Cowboys game than a CNN debate, is an animal activist, believes in God, loves his family, can cook a mean steak and loves working in the newspaper industry. Politically, I voted for George Bush (right winger!), believe stem cell research should be allowed (liberal!), think the government hands out way too much to people who don’t deserve it (right-winger!) and think our current handling of illegal immigration is both cruel and ineffective (liberal!). I guess I’m a flip-flopper, waffler or whatever clever name comes with actually having a brain that can change its thoughts if it wants.

While we’re on the subject of brains, I do have one of those, too … despite Councilman Steve Brewer’s latest post. I’ve posted before and written in the paper the process that goes into making endorsements, writing editorials and making news decisions here.
Brewer writes, “It is ashame that Mr. Horners (sic) endorsement is so busy attacking me, the pros and cons of the candidates take a back seat. That’s just Bill Horner at his best. He vents in the paper once or twice a year trying to get attention and things his way.”

I’ll say it again, our editorials are a group decision. I don’t know how to make it any clearer. Our endorsements this year were a Democratic process — four votes, we all gave our thoughts into what the editorial would say, and one of us wrote the editorial based on all the notes, the votes and the discussions we had. It wasn’t Bill Horner and his drones, as Brewer puts it.

Then again, our newspaper has been critical of the Council being Steve Brewer and his drones … so I suppose we can take what we dish.

The comment was a slap in the face to me and the other board members. Comments like this are a slap in the face to the reporters who cover events and are accused of writing exactly what the higher-ups want them to write instead of reporting the news.

Give us some credit. Give me some credit. Hell, make stickers about me if you’d like (here’s a tip, people say I have big ears … go with the ‘no dumbo’ stickers).

Now, all this said … I don’t want it to sound like this election season has driven me insane or anything. I still say it’s tame compared to what I covered in Louisiana. Weird, but tame.

I can see how some people might be put off from voting at all because of some of the nastiness of the election. For those of you, I hope you still vote. And if you hit a ballot item that you just can’t make a decision on … put me in as your write-in vote. I’ll be your Steve Colbert, and if I’m elected with enough write-ins, I will pledge the city of Sanford will do everything in its power to destroy the town of Vass (Erwin, I’m looking your way, too).

Point of the story is this — I’ve got a mind. I even use it on occasion as well.

Go vote. Later.


4 thoughts on “Sanford City Council Election: It got weird

  1. Billy-
    I would like to thank you for the Herald’s coverage of this election. Because of the efforts of the Herald, I did something I do not normally do, I cast an informed vote.

    I can not cast by party lines, since I do not really align with one party, actually after reading your political positioning, I think we belong to the same party, a weird intermingling of Republican and Democrat issues. ( I actually think that is where most of America is, yet I digress).

    I am thanking you for posting the debates on YouTube. I did not have time to attend the Herald’s forum, but one morning, after reading your paper, I decided I needed to find out what the candidates really were saying. Because of YouTube I was able to listen to all of the candidates, replay parts I didn’t quite catch the first time, take notes, and make an informed decision. Thank you.

  2. Mr. Liggett, you are a breath of fresh air so keep up the good work.! Newspapers and journalism are for informing the readers of the facts (as best as can be discerned). thank you for trying to do just that.

  3. Hi Billy,

    Welcome to Sanford – I know it is a bit late but throughout this whole election process I have been very thankful that you moved here. It was the first election since I have moved here that was covered fairly and that people weren’t afraid to say what is truly going on. Not afraid to point out the Steve Brewer group and how they unfairly run the city of Sanford. I applaud that you all at the paper were not put aback and printed what you fellt. Finally, someone saying what most are afraid to say.
    Be wary though – if you rock the boat and show any semblance of intelligence when it concerns showing the wrong doings of the city of Sanford they will all attack you.
    Strange how they know things are wrong but as long as it isn’t brought up it doesn’t exist in their minds. But oh my goodness if a person brings up a problem – and gosh forbid it be a “non-native” 🙂 All that said you hit the nail on the head in your statement – “If I’ve learned one thing in my nine months in Sanford, it’s this — people will immediately develop a perception of you no matter what you do”‘

    That is so true. Though I have found some people very welcoming in the area I have found more “natives” leary of welcoming anyone to their “friendly little town”

    Glad you are here… another transplant from Texas.

  4. Billy, and everyone at the Herald,

    I too would like to thank all of you for the coverage of the election, both in the paper, and via other venues such as the Youtube video clips of the candidate forums.

    I’m certain that not everyone will have agreed with the Herald’s endorsements, op/ed pieces, or even reporting, but I personally am happy to see that the local paper took the time to cover the candidates, issues, and election with enough depth to help readers understand what was before them.

    Being new to Sanford, also via Texas, Louisiana, California, and elsewhere…. we had little experience with Sanford’s political landscape, and your personal and paper’s efforts informed and inspired.

    In fact, our pre-election-night neighborhood forum where we invited the Ward 2 and At Large candidates to meet with residents was a direct off-shoot of what I saw reported in the Herald.

    I’m not certain that I would have even thought of getting that organized if the election and campaigns weren’t featured so prominently in the paper and these blogs.

    So thanks again, and keep up the good work.

    And if it hasn’t been said enough, welcome to Sanford and to the neighborhood!


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