Sunday, April 30, 2017

CouncilMember. Former Mayor, AND Candidate for Re-Election Bryan Knedler Endorses Mayor Malinda Miles

"Many months ago, I asked Malinda if she intended to run again. I assured her that I would run for mayor if she did not, but I saw little point in running against her since our positions on the issues are almost always the same and we have very similar goals for the next four years—economic development, a civic center with new library, annexation to create a healthier tax base, better recreation space for young and old, a greener city, etc. etc.

Malinda made her decision and has asked for my endorsement. I have worked with Malinda for 20 years in various ways and believe she deserves another term as mayor. I join with our current state delegate Jimmy Tarlau and former state delegate Doyle Niemann in supporting her bid for re-election.

I know there are voters out there who still can’t decide between two good candidates. The good news is that we have two good candidates. I have been asked numerous times in the last few weeks about my decision and here are some thoughts to consider.

First, I am not interested in the campaign promises. Both candidates are promising just about the same thing. Economic development, support for green projects, concern for low-income residents, civic spaces, peace and harmony, and the sun will rise in the morning. Promising to do X and Y is one thing. Having a plan or ability to get X and Y done is the important skill and test. Malinda has a proven track record of getting results. So does Jesse. Both candidates are making promises, but both of them have been on the council, and made promises four years ago. Have they accomplished what they promised?

The two candidates are not that different on the policy level regardless of the rhetoric. As one example, both candidates can take credit for helping make the city a greener place. Malinda, for example, championed and pushed for the creation of the Green Team and for the city to become one of the first municipalities to be certified in the Sustainable Maryland program.

I don’t agree with everything Malinda does or the way she goes about it. Our personalities and approach to issues are very different. The city council is a group of persons who each bring something to the table. Some of us are more cerebral. Some are great advocates for the schools and children. Some are great at organizing events. Some have a financial background that helps with understanding budgets and project funding. Some are adept at zoning issues or economic development. It is a team created by the voters.

Malinda brings many things to the council table, but first in my mind is her passion for Mount Rainier and its residents. Second is her responsiveness when residents ask for help. Her ability to pick up the phone and call the right person to get an answer or help solve a problem is unique to her on the council. I agree that the newer members of the team are building those connections. She has countless personal connections with politicians, clergy, business leaders, the schools and civic activists not only in our little neck of the woods, but in the county and state.

Another question to ask is “what has the candidate done for me lately.” Have I seen the candidate out in public promoting the city or helping residents? Over the years, I have seen Malinda jump in to help people in need and when she gets a call for help or solve a problem, she responds. I have seen her personally show up at a house or on a city block to lend a hand or push for a solution to an issue. And she even responds and helps residents that she knows do not support her or who will turn around and criticize her the next day. If you are someone Malinda has helped over the years, I am sure you are not having trouble making this decision in the mayor’s race.

Having been mayor myself, I know the limits of a mayor’s power in Mount Rainier. The mayor is basically a councilmember at large . Of course I realize that many people see the mayor as the public persona of Mount Rainier. And one thing everyone can agree on is that Malinda Miles has been an unforgettable public persona. Have you ever seen her in the Mount Rainier Day parade in those hats? Up on stage? In many ways, the election decision comes down to personality rather than issues. While the two of them are not far apart on the issues, they could not be more different personas.

But, the mayor also tends to get blamed for anything that goes wrong, for all the unsolved problems, and for economic development failures. I point out that both candidates for mayor are equally to blame —along with the rest of the council— for perceived failures. And hopefully we all get some credit for successes. It takes three votes to get an issue decided after all.
I hear that some in the community are just tired of Malinda. They want fresh blood and new ideas. I agree that fresh faces and enthusiasm are healthy. The demographics of the city are rapidly changing—at least in those that own homes. In this election, you will get at least 2 new councilmembers. Regardless of which candidate wins as mayor, it will be a current member of council.

And although I don’t have an opinion on the Ward 1 council seat races, here are some general thoughts. Nearly 99 percent of the time, votes are unanimous. That is because we work through an issue and come to a compromise. When considering any candidate on May 1, please think about his or her ability to work cooperatively. What you don’t want is a councilmember that bulldozes projects or issues simply because he or she has the three votes needed and therefore doesn’t need to listen to the dissent. Or a councilmember who constantly seeks to obstruct good ideas.

So, I look forward to seeing you at the poll and I promise —assuming I am re-elected—to work constructively with the candidates who you elect to the team." Councilmember, former Mayor and candidate for re-election -- Bryan Knedler

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