GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hey candidates, you do know the election is next Tuesday, don't you? Where are the mudslinging barbs at your opponents? Where are the negative ads? For that matter, where are the ads?
After a U.S. Senate race that bombarded us with commercial after commercial for one candidate and against another candidate, the municipal elections of 2009 have been just the opposite. The local races seem so quiet. The silence makes you wonder if campaign staff members realize the party primaries are just a couple of days away.
I've heard that starting this weekend, the airwaves will begin to fill up with political spots. I hope those ads spell out the platforms of the candidates.
I hate mudslinging. In municipal races, I like good, solid campaigning. I want the candidates to stop by my house so I can have face-to-face discussions with them about where they stand on issues that will come up during the next four years. That way, if they're elected, I'll know how they'll vote on key local issues.
I hosted a ward four city council forum in Gulfport last week. Two of the three candidates were there. I made sure I asked questions that forced the candidates to express their views on community issues. The audience never heard a candidate rip his opponent. Instead, they learned important details about the mindset of the men on ward four ballots.
The democrat in that race is Austin Barnett. He's an 80 year old African American who grew up in Chicago. During his opening remarks, he broke down and cried when he explained that even though Bayou View has more whites than blacks, and his odds of winning weren't great, he decided to run because of Barack Obama. Barnett said the president's victory inspired him to share his passion for Gulfport with his Bayou View neighbors. And he wasn't the least bit embarrassed about his emotional outburst.
Barnett doesn't have a democratic opponent in the primary. So, his race heats up after Bayou View republicans choose either Dick Chapin or Rusty Walker to represent their party in the general election.
May 5 is an important day for the ward four republicans, and for every community (except Waveland) in south Mississippi. It's the day we begin to choose our next leaders, and shape our futures. Let's hope we hear from the candidates over the next few days. And let's hope what we hear is good, clean stump talk, and not the dirty mudslinging that marred last year's Senate race.