Out of Control Policy Blog

"Whatever" wins in landslide

Antonio Villaraigosa will be L.A.?s next mayor, but what?s with all this landslide talk?

Peter Gordon explains:

    The LA Times reports that of the City's 3.8 million, only 1.4 million are registered to vote. Of these, the winner received 18.6% while the incumbent came in with 13.1%. More than 68% of those registered stayed away. All of this in a City where approximately 1.9 million are eligible to vote (over 18 and citizens). The proportions, then, were more like 13.7 % for the winner, 9.7% for the loser and 75% for "whatever".

And Joel Kotkin worries about the rise of ?cool? mayors:

    Villaraigosa represents the latest trend in big-city mayors: the cool chief executive. The world is now filled with such characters, usually handsome and telegenic, who often seem more like celebrity endorsers for their cities than tough-minded chief executives ?

    Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick, for instance, was elected in part because he sold himself as "the hip-hop mayor" who would turn the Motor City into the next "cool city." Kilpatrick's recent missteps ? such as having family members use a luxury SUV leased at public expense ? have somewhat tarnished his appeal. The city's continuing descent into the later stages of municipal collapse has not helped. But other "cool" mayors are still getting good reviews, from the media and, in many places, from voters as well. Indeed, several of these ? Denver's John Hickenlooper, Baltimore's Martin O'Malley and San Francisco's Gavin Newsom ? were recently among Time magazine's top U.S. mayors ?

    [N]either O'Malley nor Newsom has been able so far to rescue his city from continuing economic decline. O'Malley's strategy in crime infested Baltimore ? based on attracting gays and bohemians ? strikes some as slightly superficial. What's the point of being hip and cool if you're being mugged?

Where have all the crusty pothole-filling mayors gone?

Ted Balaker is Producer


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