Here's a secret: The Mercury's endorsement of Charlie Hales for mayor was unanimous. Editor in chief Steve Humphrey, senior editor Erik Henriksen, reporter Sarah Mirk, and I all agreed that Hales—despite a long list of hangups and caveats we spent much of our writeup detailing—was the slightly better choice when compared to Jefferson Smith.
But now that polls are showing Hales with a virtually impregnable lead a week or so before election results are counted—and after Hales managed to once again, after our endorsement, remind us why we're struggling to trust him—I'm breaking with my colleagues. No, I'm not voting for Smith. But I am going to write someone else.
Why? My reasoning is simple, and it's laid out in this week's Hall Monitor—along with my potential write-in picks.
To make sure Hales really understands where he sits in the eyes of voters—so that he's sufficiently humbled so as to strenuously avoid repeating his own litany of trust-busting campaign mistakes—write in someone else.
(Disclosure: I marked Hales on my ballot the day it came but haven't been able to make it official. I'll probably write in Sam Adams—although public defender and mental health advocate Chris O'Connor remains a solid dark horse.)
Hales will still win. Smith will still lose. But if we can help it, Hales will win with less than majority support—without what he can reasonably claim as a mandate. That's a fair outcome for a candidate who's mostly right on policy issues, but broke his promise on campaign contribution caps only after winning a slew of newspaper endorsements, bullied groups that didn't endorse him, and also let his campaign get caught in fibs.