I was asked on a bike forum which commissioners were up for reelection next. Here is a summary of the current commissioners, dates of their next elections, their last elections and my opinion on possibilities for defeat. You can check your election ID to see if you are represented by any of these folks. If you do not have a voter ID card, get one because you are voting in the next election! If you are in any of these districts and would think about holding public office, this is a good level to get in on. Remember, the religious right assumed great control over local governments by running inexperienced people for this level of office with strong grassroots support. We can use their model to accomplish the same thing. We may have to reach across party lines to do it, but it is certainly possible.
It looks like the Chair, and Districts 2 and 4 are up for reelection in 2008. The primary will be in July and the general in November.
The Chair is Sam Olens. He won the Republican primary in July 2004 with 81% of the vote. He ran unopposed in the general. His seat is voted on county wide, so it would be hard for a Democrat to unseat him- the country is trending back to the Dems but Cobb County is more like Alabama than it is the rest of the country.
He is a GOP golden boy, holds many elected offices, holds an appointment from Gov. Perdue, sits on many boards, has won many awards, and works as a lawyer. He seems like a pretty decent guy except for this boneheaded vote. He will be hard to oust. It would probably be hard to get any decent Republican to run against him since I am sure the GOP would make a serious effort to dissuade a challenger. Of course, if he is being groomed he may seek higher office in 2008. With the number of posts he holding now, I tend to think he may stay where he is.
On Olens I will say that he did inquire about adding additional lanes on Columns and did talk, for all talk is worth, about building other bike lanes in Cobb in the coming years to try and relieve some of the bike traffic on Columns. When I mentioned that if Columns has been such a hot button issue for so many years as some commissioners and homeowners were suggesting, maybe they should have been planning additional bike lane before now, he got rather hot and testy. It may be possible to encourage him to become a bike friendly ally. Still, his vote for the ordinance was a vote against cyclists.
Primarying him would be tough and beating him the general election tougher. Of course nothing would be impossible.
District 2 would be Joe Thompson. He is the guy who brought the ordinance up for the folks on Columns. He is very old. He ran unopposed in the general and won the Republican primary 70-30%. If he runs again, and from some sources in the Cobb GOP they were surprised he ran again last time, he is beatable in the primary. He is not well liked at all and many longtime GOP contributors did not donate to him in 2004. He is arrogant and dismissive. (He even refused to be interviewed by an scout who needed an interview with an elected official for an Eagle Scout badge. And this scout was the son of a wealthy, long-time GOP contributor.)
He is very beatable in the primary with a good candidate. He is the guy I would most like to see defeated for bringing up this ordinance.
District 4 is Annette Kesting. She won the Democratic primary with 63% of the vote and in the general she beat Republican Woody Thompson in the general by a razor thin margin of 51-49%. From one of the anti-bike homeowners on Columns I heard that Woody Thompson is planning to run again. However, he almost certainly would not be pro-bike and might actually be anti-bike like the folks on the commission now.
I heard Kesting speak at one of the commission meetings. She does not seem to be very bright at all. She gives constituents 8x10 glossies of herself and puts her picture on t-shirts for kids on some after school program. I think a good candidate could clean her clock in a primary. Although West Cobb leans Dem, if we could get a pro bike Republican through the GOP primary, we could beat her in the general as well. She is easily the most endangered commissioner during a re-election.
Up for reelection in 2010 would be Districts 1 and 3.
District 1 is Helen Goreham. While she ran unopposed in the general, she did face 5 challengers in the GOP primary, which she won with 53% without a runoff. She is beatable in the primary with a good candidate. With 5 challengers last time, I am sure she would be challenged again in 2010.
District 3 is Tim Lee. He ran unopposed in the GOP primary and won the general 72-28%. I have no idea how he would fare in a primary battle. It would take one heck of a Dem candidate to beat him in the general.