Sunday, September 17, 2006

An artist's musings on the mayoral candidates at the SRAC forum; Noma Fowler-Sandlin searches for relevance in the leaders

If you've missed seeing the candidates perform, please slip into the Highland Area Partnership Mayoral Forum on Tuesday, 19 September at 7 p.m. at Highland Center, 520 Olive.

Here's what artist Noma Fowler-Sandlin wrote in her blog after the recent SRAC candidate forum:

To be fair, I've already decided who I am voting for. But I went to the Mayoral Candidate Forum, sponsored by the local arts administrators last evening, and tried to listen with an open mind. Beforehand, they were given some questions they might address for this art-related crowd, but only a few of them chose to do their homework. This is what I heard:

Liz Swaine: She clearly recognizes that arts are integral to the growth of the city. She has plans to continue the kinds of programs that Hightower implemented that were very good to the arts/tourism industry. And she wants to work with the state to soften the rules for renovating the dilapidated buildings downtown to continue to stimulate the West Edge.

Max Malone: He flat out said that the arts would be cut. He unashamedly said so. He lost me there. The rest of his rhetoric painted a pretty ugly picture of Shreveport. Man, what a downer. Plus, "god" came up way too often.

Jerry Jones: He's a likable enough fellow -- fairly nice looking, smiles a lot, says big words with proper conjugations -- but when you really analyze what was said, it's the same political double-talk we've had from Republicans for years. He did not specify on his plans for the arts. (Afterall, we've already heard from him that homosexuals are responsible for art. And I proud to call Debbie Buchanan Engle my friend as she walked around with her name tag that read, "artistic and heterosexual.") Again, he did not offend. And I'm sure a lot of people listened with enthusiasm. He is the nice-looking, silver-tongued, articulate, used car salesman that politics nurtures so well. It's just more of the same business, so I think I'll pass.

Henry Hodge-Bey: All I could think of is, why is this man in this race? He blamed all the problems of Shreveport on the people's apathy and lethargy. Now, I do agree that is part of the problem, but to have that be your platform will not fetch you many votes, especially if you present no plan to change it. He mentioned his "son of a sharecropper" roots. (Wonder how ones name gets pretentiously hyphenated from that beginning. Hmm. Must've really changed since those days, but he still can't conjugate a verb. And sorry, you may think I'm a snob, but I want the leader of our city to not look like a boob on tv.)

Tim Goeders: Again, this guy talked about all the business problems with the city. He seemed angry that last time he ran he got less than 400 votes. He had the personality of a cardboard cut-out. He didn't touch on the arts at all, but seemed to be running on a "make Shreveport more like Bossier" platform. Yikes.

Cedric Glover: Mr. Glover was the winner of this event in my mind, although there was no score-keeping -- it wasn't a debate. As far as presentation, speaking ability and getting to the actual point, he ran circles around most of the others (although Swain did a fine job as well, she ran out of time.) He sees the connection between the arts and stimulation of the economy through the things that Louisiana does best -- entertainment and tourism. Plus, I must add, he has a supportive, visible and well-spoken wife supporting his campaign all along the way. It doesn't hurt to know that you have that going on.

Ed Bradley: Talks and talk about his plan that's on paper somewhere...but he makes me snore so much I never pick up the plan. You have to tell people what you're going to do. Not everyone is going to read your plan, no matter how good it is. Plus, with an eager, receptive, artistic crowd, the only connection to the arts he made was to drop two names of administrators. Not enough, Mr. Bradley.

Arlena Acree: Of the Republicans running, she was the most palatable. As the former tourism board point person, she knows that end of Shreveport and knows how to do it. That includes the arts. She probably has very good ideas. (I hope that whomever does win this election will keep Acree and Goeders close at hand. They have their areas of expertise well covered. But it's not enough to win my vote.) And I have to say, that despite her career background, she is not a good speaker.

Those were the candidates the bothered to come to the event, which was horribly under-attended and rushed. I would've preferred some other format, where the audience could've asked questions. Most of the candidates stayed for a reception, but it wasn't the kind of venue that would support serious conversation.

So, there you have it. I am supporting Liz Swaine. She's a friend. I think she'll do a fine job. But Cedric Glover will, too. He really was wonderful last night. And if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to vote Republican, I'd chose Arlena Acree. The difference between Swain and Glover in my eye is that I suspect Swain can actually get more of her ideas utilized. I don't know that for fact. But Cedric Glover might actually motivate the black community here and that would be a wonderful thing. For a majority black city, I am surprised at how little of their voices I hear on these things. I am fine with either of them being Mayor of Shreveport. Neither would embarrass us.

So there you have it -- my opinions. Use them for what they're worth. You know I love to opine.

I hope all of you will vote. I hope you'll use it wisely; do some research of your own. From many of my friends, I hear about how they hate Shreveport and want it to change. Well, here is an opportunity to be a virus. Change it.

Noma Fowler-Sandlin
Musebite Management Co.

No comments: