Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deming Mayoral Candidates

The city of Deming is holding elections for mayor and two seats on its city council in just a couple of weeks. The local paper hosted a forum for the candidates last week. Pictured above (the photo is by Bill Armendariz of the Headlight) are the four men running for mayor.

We have the incumbent mayor (bald man shown taking notes), a very young and green challenger (red tie), a local street preacher (bald man looking around the room), and a man who has been in and out of hospital with paranoid schizophrenia (green jacket).

The format easily works to the advantage of the incumbent. Questions were presented to all candidates, who had about a minute to answer. There were no follow-up questions and no exchanges between the candidates.

This format makes it difficult, but not impossible, for challengers to make a substantive case against the incumbent administration. Two of them had a go, but they did not seem well prepared or practiced. This is a skill. The incumbent, Mayor Andres Silva, who is also pastor of a charismatic church downtown and owns a few businesses, is highly skilled and used the format to maximal advantage. He was over-prepared for any policy criticism; he brought the most supporters into the room; he was warm, fluent, and exuded experience. Plus, he was protected from follow-ups that would challenge his statements.

The format can, with some skill and practice, be turned against an incumbent. It takes some practice to use a one-minute response to say why the city is on the wrong track, and why or how you will make the right difference. Doing so, however, you can get the mayor responding to critiques, forcing him to use his own one minute reply to defend his administration.

The challengers got no further than introducing themselves, really. The most serious contender, young Tyler Vendrely, had to overcome his youthful appearance and make a serious case for himself as mayor. Surprisingly, he didn't even mention relevant details about himself, like the fact he is a business owner, and president of an organization that promotes Deming to business owners, until the very end of the event. He is more than a kid in a suit, but did little to dispel the latter impression.

It's a safe wager the mayor will be re-elected.

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