Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rakes out...

David Rakes yesterday announced that he is stepping down from the council, effective this Friday, for health reasons. I was not a big fan of Rakes, but my politics doesn’t supersede my humanity. Rakes has obviously devoted a lot of energy and time to this community and I wish him nothing but good health and (finally) some relaxation.

But you don’t come here to read about the retired life of politicians. What are the political implications of Rakes’ decision?

The Democrats must name a successor for Rakes by April 25. Two weeks ago, the obvious choice would have been Calvin Ball, who finished second to Rakes in the primary four years ago, has been an active player in the district for a while, and was the only Democrat officially running for the position. However, with the recent entry of another Democrat into the race, Adam Sachs, things get a little tricky.

It is the policy of the county central committee to stay out of primaries, supporting all party candidates equally. And because incumbency – however short the term – is always a benefit in elections, especially primaries, wouldn’t selecting Ball to replace Rakes represent de facto support of one candidate over another? I say it would, and in that case, I would also say the central committee is betraying one of its own, which is not a fair way to operate.

Although I’m not terribly concerned with what policies the central committee abides by, I am concerned that they actually abide by the policies that are in effect.

Does that make sense? Basically, I don’t so much care what the rules are – just that they are consistently followed. Better?

It is too early for me to take sides in any county race, so don’t try to twist my words into a pro-Sachs position. Like the central committee, I’m trying to treat all candidates equally at this point, but, depending on their actions over the next few weeks, we’ll see how hard the central committee is actually trying.

If it is not fair and against policy for the central committee to appoint Ball to Rakes’ seat, the next logical question is: Who? That I don’t know.

Ideally, the person should be committed to the district, have no interest in serving past December, and, I suppose, should have some understanding county government. What about the longtime but now former councilman, Vernon Gray? I’m not sure if he is still around (I think so) or if he has any desire, but it’s certainly worth a phone call. Other potential replacements might be Columbia councilwoman Barbara Russell, Oakland Mills village board chair Bill Woodcock, or somebody else that I don’t know – perhaps from Jessup or Long Reach.

Any other suggestions?

The one thing you could always say about Rakes was that he kept things interesting right up to this resignation. I don’t know if we will ever have someone like him on the council again, but a content-starved blogger can hope.

(Again, David Wissing beat me to the punch on this.)

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