An Old Van on Election DayApril 07, 2015
I like voting in local elections. My vote matters more (since most people skip the election). And I actually know some of the candidates I vote for (as well as some of them I vote against). Lots of cities in the U.S. held local elections today. I voted for mayor and school board, both of which will impact me at least as much as my congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. And, yet, most people won't stop by to vote. Hopefully that means the candidates I like will actually win!
The mayoral race in the City of Jefferson, Missouri, this year is interesting since it's the first one without a primary (which was cancelled to save money). Thus, instead of two or three candidates, there are six. Winning a majority isn't necessary, so the candidate with the plurality of votes wins. Theoretically, that means someone could win with less than 17 percent of the vote. That type of politics doesn't help consensus-building.
One of the six candidates often seems a bit eccentric. His unique campaign advertising adds to that image. Rather than put up yard signs, he has a cheaply-painted van to promote his candidacy. It notes a couple of his positions, and even adds a funding note ("paid by candidate").
Leonard Steinman has previously run for mayor, as well as Cole County Western District commissioner, the U.S. House of Representatives, and Missouri governor (he hasn't yet won). He's even talked about running for president. He has enough name recognition now that he could probably have a good shot at city council if he would run for a race that small. But if there ever was another race he could win, this loaded mayoral primary would likely be the best shot (but I doubt he'll break into the top half of the candidates).
Steinman's campaign style is odd, but he pays for it himself because he doesn't want to owe any donors anything once in office. I don't agree with many of his ideas (and didn't vote for him), but there's something refreshing about a system that allows anyone to pursue their electoral dreams. He might just do it for attention, but at least we let anyone run. Now if only we could create a system where it didn't take raising lots of money to actually win.