Endorsements for Constitutional Officers and Some Others

Why should anybody care whom I endorse for any elected office? When voters come to the polls after thoroughly researching candidate qualifications, positions on issues, and records of service in the community and prior elective office, nobody needs to care. Unfortunately, many voters do not spend the time to learn about candidates in depth but rely on institutional endorsements (e. g., Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee, People for Portsmouth, or The Virginian-Pilot editorial board) or the opinions of family members, neighbors, or community leaders of one type or another. As someone who has spent the last twenty-one years keeping up to date on political issues and candidates in my adopted hometown of Portsmouth, I frequently share my insights with neighbors through conversation or in writing. On the eve of this year’s General Election, I offer you my picks for Portsmouth City Treasurer, Commonwealth’s Attorney, and Sheriff, as well as for offices farther up the ballot. Continue reading Endorsements for Constitutional Officers and Some Others

There Is a Season

I have a longstanding fondness for a song I first heard The Byrds perform and later learned that the immortal Pete Seeger had composed. The lyrics to “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, which come from the Book of Ecclesiastes, speak of accepting change in its manifold forms, both good and bad, but with a spirit of hopefulness. As our national and local election seasons enter the penultimate day, I am hopeful that the outcomes will lead to “a time for peace”.

On a personal level, my post-election calendar is less full than it has been since January. The annual holiday season gathering of the Geduldig Clan lies ahead, and opportunities to whittle away at the household “honey-do” list, largely neglected this past year, is on the horizon. I welcome the prospects of returning to some sense of home front normalcy, at least until the new year.

With so many variables at play in our local election, I feel less prescient than ever about the results of the balloting tomorrow. My highest hope, regardless of who ends up as the mayor-, council-, and school board members-elect, is that we will have a true “win” for the city. We need people of integrity, talent, maturity, empathy, good sense, and good will filling those positions. Whether or not I am one of them, I will continue to participate in the democratic process by contributing my best ideas and efforts to improving our Portsmouth for all of our neighbors. I urge all my fellow residents to do the same.

I thank my fellow candidates for putting their talents and energies into seeking to serve our city and all my neighbors who have or will cast ballots in Election 2016 for making the wheels of democracy turn. Sir Winston Churchill said that this form of government is the very worst, except for all the others that humankind has tried at various times. Its only chance to improve lies in citizens informing themselves about issues and office seekers before making their selections.

I look forward to seeing many of you, my fellow citizens, at the polls across our city tomorrow. May our efforts make this a season of change for the better. Choose wisely!

Why to Choose Me for a Seat on City Council

Icampaign_sign_enhf you were hiring someone to repair your home heating/air conditioning system, would you be looking for a well-trained, seasoned technician or someone full of theoretical ideas who has had no direct involvement with HVAC equipment? I would opt for the veteran repair person. In seeking to correct the deficiencies of our local government, the same principle applies. Candidates who have had little prior engagement in municipal issues routinely turn up each election season with lots of ideas of how to make everything better and no idea of how we got off track in the first place.

In contrast to those folks, I have been on the scene for the past twenty-one years, fully engaged with the workings of local government. I have consistently attended council work sessions, regular and special meetings, and meetings of city boards and commissions that directly affect the quality of life for everyday citizens. Not content with informing myself about what our municipal government has been doing, through PortsmouthCityWatch.org, I have shared with the public significant information that I have acquired. Through recording and posting videos of such local bodies as the Economic Development Authority and Portsmouth Port and Industrial Commission, PortsmouthCityWatch.org has afforded the public access to important deliberations and decisions that would otherwise have gone unreported.

In the previous local election, some candidates and one political action committee adopted government transparency as their buzz phrase, but as Mark Twain observed regarding the weather, there has been much said and little done about that notion. Again, through PortsmouthCityWatch.org, I have pried open the doors of municipal government to afford the public a look inside. I pushed the city to post its budget documents on the city website for all citizens to access, something it now does as a matter of course. Before PCW began video recording of city council public work sessions, only the citizens who could show up for those vital briefings could see and hear what their elected representatives said and did in those meetings. In fact, once we began posting our videos, the city grudgingly acquiesced to our oft-repeated prior requests to make and distribute its own recordings of those sessions. In 2013 when council decided to stop recording the non-agenda speaker portion of its regular meetings, PCW stepped in to ensure that members of the public who could not be present in the council chamber could still view what transpired. After two months of public pressure and PCW presence, the city cameras went back in service for the entirety of council meetings.

No other current candidate for city council has attended as many public meetings of council – regular, special, work session, and retreat – as I. Over the past twenty-one years, no other citizen, candidate or not, has addressed council on matters coming before it for decision as frequently and consistently as I. Please note that I have not been present to speak on matters of self-interest but rather to advance the public interest. I have advocated most often for neighborhoods – keeping them safe both from crime and harmful types of development like the ethanol plant and the medical waste incinerator proposed a number of years ago; ensuring that they receive essential city services, such as well-performing schools, timely refuse collection, adequate drainage, and necessary infrastructure repairs; and support for partnerships between the city and its communities.

Thankfully, a sizeable segment of our neighbors pay attention to civic matters between elections and have seen me in action, either during their presence at council meetings or through video recordings aired on Portsmouth City Television (PCTV) or YouTube. Many have introduced themselves to me on the streets of our city, in local shopping venues, or at civic events to express their support and appreciation for what I do to advance the common good. I hope they will remember to demonstrate that support at the polls next month.

Of my neighbors who have only recently begun paying attention to local issues, I would ask that you check back through the video archive of council meetings and see if the unblinking eye of the camera doesn’t support what I have asserted here. In running for a seat on city council, I stand on my record of citizen advocacy, but I will not stop there. My goal is to increase citizen access to and involvement in the municipal government decision-making process. Help me to help us all by voting this November 6 for Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky to be your voice on city council.

Of Political Signage and Presumed Alliances

An approximation of the image in the original posting
An approximation of the image in the original posting

A Facebook acquaintance posted a picture on the timeline of an influential Portsmouth political action committee recently. It shows a well-known residential property that has hosted a variety of political signs over the course of many election seasons with the owners’ current selections. The caption supplied by the person posting was the time-worn saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. The inference I drew from this commentary was that sign proximity indicates personal affinity. Continue reading Of Political Signage and Presumed Alliances

My Top Three Priorities

Perhaps the question most frequently posed, in one form or another, to a candidate is “List your top three priorities in order of importance and explain why those and in that order.” Normally, the parties making the inquiry provide either too little time or space to answer the question fully. For the benefit of the electorate, I offer the following. Continue reading My Top Three Priorities

Questionnaires

As promised, the links below provide access to the sets of written questions posed by the named organizations along with the responses submitted by Candidate Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky:

Thoughts on Questionnaires

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about, writing out, and revising my answers to a pair of very interesting candidate questionnaires I received this week. For many years the Hampton Roads Realtors Association and Portsmouth Education Association PAC have posed to candidates for local office questions of particular concern to their members. On dispatching the finished documents, I feel much the way I did at the equivalent point in writing term papers for my history classes: intellectually drained but initially relieved to have completed the task. What follows the relief, though, is anxiety — how will the professor assess my work? Nonetheless, doing that work has intrinsic rewards. I receive insight into what issues matter most to certain segments of my constituency, and I have a chance to ponder issues that I might not have considered on my own. Whether I “pass the audition” or not, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the experience. When I take my seat on council next January, that knowledge will help me be a better representative of all the people.

As I have done with my financial reports, I will be posting the questions I have received along with my responses on the campaign web site. They will appear later this month after I have completed the followup interviews. The public deserves to know whether my issue positions as stated to one audience align with those presented to another. Recognizing that I may be deviating from established political practice, I am guided, nonetheless, by Polonius’s famous admonition to Laertes: “This above all- to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any[one].” Whether or not someone likes a particular position of mine, i believe the public deserves a truthful statement of what it is.

Pandora’s Box Version 2.0?

A friend opened a thread on her Facebook timeline in response to a recent Virginian-Pilot editorial offering us, as is the practice of the editorial board, their omniscient guidance out of the error of our ways. (See http://pilotonline.com/opinion/editorial/virginian-pilot-editorial-to-progress-portsmouth-needs-new-unity/article_b1bf0162-4610-5c6d-b854-0bd1265e6401.html.)  My friend felt that the V-P was less than evenhanded in its distribution of criticism, an assessment that I share. Our mayor, who has so often refused to comment in the press on matters of concern to the public, used the relatively “safe harbor” of our mutual friend’s timeline to fire a broadside against both the V-P in particular and the news media in general. (The transcript of his remarks is available here.) Out of respect for the sensibilities of the host, I have chosen to house my critique of the Mayor’s comments, and any subsequent reader responses, in my own space. Continue reading Pandora’s Box Version 2.0?