Last night’s election results in the Fourth Ward, on the City’s west side, were shameful. Jon Denison, a candidate who didn’t campaign, didn’t show up at public meetings, didn’t speak, write, or communicate positions on any issues, received a winning percentage over candidate Victor Summa, who has repeatedly demonstrated deep and sincere (albeit sometimes loud and annoying) concern for our community, and amply shown a willingness to work hard at making it better.
I mean no disrespect to the winning candidate (although representing the fourth ward now strikes me as a very dubious honor). However, it appears that Denison’s biggest strength is being almost completely unknown. To my knowledge he’s not attended council or commission meetings; he does not participate in the LWV, the NDDC, the Chamber, or other civic groups; he was a no-show at the well-publicized League of Women Voters candidatesâ€™ forum; the Northfield News reported: “Despite extensive efforts, candidate Jon Denison could not be reached for comment.” I donâ€™t want to jump to conclusions, but these facts do not appear to indicate much commitment.
Thereâ€™s really no other way I can account for so many votes for Denison, other than as votes against Summa. And that’s really pathetic.
I understand that Summa’s outspoken style is not for everyone. He can get on peopleâ€™s nerves; heâ€™s both opinionated and stubborn. If Summa were passive-aggressive, we thin-skinned Scandinavian types could probably handle itâ€”at least it would be familiarâ€”but a volatile, direct approach which believes that argument and debate are (gasp!) a fair and reasonable means to hash out issues? Heaven forfend.
Yes, Dixon Bond was probably right on last week’s Locally Grown audio show when he remarked, “If Victor is elected, Council meetings will last at least an hour longer.” But Summa is not a gadfly simply for the sake of being one. Even when I disagree with him, which is often, I have to concede that his opinions are usually based on substantive reasons with real thought behind them.
Iâ€™ve often said the Victor and Kiffi Summa probably have the best comprehensive view of the issues facing our community than anyone else I know. Between the two of them, they attend almost every civic and community meeting in this town. Itâ€™s unfortunate that the citizens of the fourth ward couldnâ€™t get beyond personality issues, and willfully chose ignorance. Iâ€™d like to think that weâ€™re a community which values substance over style, but now Iâ€™m not so sure.