POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Another Election Day, but Whom to Vote For?

by David Trumbull

May 19, 2006

Tuesday brought more rain --and Election Day. Actually, for a special election for district councillor, the turn-out, 6,265 votes or 22 percent of the registered voters, was good even for fair weather.

The top vote-getters, Salvatore LaMattina and Daniel J. Ryan now move on to the June 13 election. You all have until May 24 to register to vote if you have not already.

Deciding whom to vote for in the preliminary election was not easy. My wife and I read the campaign literature and candidate interviews in the newspaper. From those sources we learnt next to nothing about the candidates' stands on issues. They all proclaimed their support for noncontroversial things such as housing, education, and public safety. There was little of substance.

I rejected Christine Amisano because I could not reconcile her biography, which listed running a small communications consultation and design business, with her choice of a really scary photo of herself on her flier and in the newspaper. Surely she doesn't really look that frightening! What was she thinking!

After reading John Toby Knudsen's incomprehensible newspaper interview I concluded he was just a nut. Apparently so did the rest of the voters. He got fewer votes than did names written in the ballot by voters at the last moment. Besides, as Mary said, do you really want to be represented by a grown man who still goes by the name "Toby."

Peter Borre, in several very expensive campaign fliers touted his impressive educational, military, and business credentials. Nowhere did he suggest what any of it had to do with Boston City Council. I guess my fellow voters were equally in the dark about his positions on municipal issues. He lost.

The favorite --based on ethnicity, geographic base, and important endorsements-- was Sal LaMattina. And his 53 percent victory in a multi-candidate race bodes very well for his chances for success. I'm sure many readers will seriously consider a "vote for Sal" (oddly just one vowel short of felony election fraud). I hope that in their consideration they will ask where he stands on the issues. The last thing we need is another stealth liberal candidate hoodwinking us into giving him our suffrages.

Also in the final election is Dan Ryan of Charlestown. Amid all the gaseous blather, he was the only candidate I could find who stated a position on a clear yes or no question. Suffolk University proposes to tear down the old Metropolitan District Commission building and put up a high-rise dormitory. Many residents of Beacon Hill are against this. But a case can, and is, made that the old MDC is no great landmark and, besides, the dorm is needed. Politicians love to waffle and be on all sides of this sort of thing. But Ryan, in a letter to voters, stated clearly that his opposes the project. Amid politicians as commitment-phobic as a confirmed playboy this was refreshing. I plan to learn more about Dan Ryan before the June 13 election