Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Column #16: Offbeat picks for mayor could spice up our future

Though a few, bittersweet "Tyler Allen for Mayor" signs remain on lawns across the Highlands, our mayoral primary is over.

Last month, Louisville went back to the polls and voted for the next affluent white man whom we wouldn't mind being mayor more than the other guy.

Though we knew it was coming, it was still a shock when neither our incumbent mayor-for-life nor musician/entrepreneur Scott Ritcher was on the bill.

When Jerry Abramson was first elected mayor, the year was 1813. Now it's 2010, and, like it or not, we're in for some changes. (Don't worry, though -- public radio will continue to play old 10,000 Maniacs and Waterboys discs way too often).

This is an exciting time for Louisville, but one fraught with uncertainty. Will we continue to progress into the future, making great strides with technology, healthy food and "green" living? Or will we continue to dwell on the same issues, causes and excuses that we used in the last century?

I'm not a political genius, and I lack fundamental insight into what it takes to run the 16th- (aka 64th-) largest city in the country. What's great about this country, though, is that I can freely share my ideas about who might make a good future mayor for this city. Most aren't even rich.

Harold Maier would be my first choice. The heart and soul behind the late Twice Told Bookstore is a bold, surprising thinker, as anyone who lingered in the aisles of his shop could testify. While his politics may be a tad to the left of the mainstream, I think "Possibility City" is ready for some surprises.

I doubt that there's any reasonable universe in which his former shop assistant, artist Sean "Rat" Garrison, could run this town. However, if Garrison promised a reunion of his early '90s band, Kinghorse, for everyone who voted for him, I think he could easily win, becoming our Jesse Ventura. There's little this town loves more than nostalgia.

Rob Pennington is another singer/screamer from the good ol' days. Many Louisvillians were raised following his lead -- helping and respecting others and living a thoughtful, responsible life, examples he continues to live by. Pennington is a natural for greater public service. It's a great shame that few of the 1,500 folks excited to see his band Endpoint perform again are as interested in his current work, teaching children with special needs.

There are probably a few folks involved in the sporting world who are good leaders. As a non-sports person, the only one famous enough for me to know about is Coach Rick Pitino. I like Italian food, too, so I know why he probably won't run.

Summer Auerbach, vice president of Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Markets, achieved success at a young age. She has proven that she can run a multifaceted, growing, progressive business. She has been a civic leader and booster, seen often in newspapers and at neighborhood festivals. Best, she is scandal-free, an important quality for a mayor.

A sure bet for the office would have to be James Olliges Jr. You probably know him better by his stage name, Jim James. The leader of My Morning Jacket is evidence that Louisville has more to offer than a two-minute horse race and KFC, and he's a proven uniter of people from different worlds. Who else could so easily share a stage with both John Prine and Erykah Badu?

J.K. McKnight, founder of the Forecastle Festival, is another uniter. Though this paper has had fun pointing out his festival's growing pains through the years, this year's Forecastle promises to be the best yet. What McKnight has accomplished -- taking a neighborhood party in Tyler Park and guiding it into a major regional event - cannot be denied. Has Widespread Panic ever played an inauguration party?

Gill Holland, owner of The Green Building, already wants to make our neighborhoods greener and more artsy. Plus, he has something none of those other non-candidates has: He's not from here. Maybe that's something we need. Also, he's an affluent white man. I hear they do well in politics.

c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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