Mayoral Candidate, Fayetteville, 1992: “I’d stop the meeting right then and there and take that alderman in a back room and . . .” | Street Jazz

Mayoral Candidate, Fayetteville, 1992: “I’d stop the meeting right then and there and take that alderman in a back room and . . .”


I’m not violating anyone’s privacy here. After all, he said it in front of a TV camera, on a show which was shown a week later. It isn’t my fault that he didn’t realize that you can do things in the military that you just can’t away with in civilian life.

In the Age of Facebook we have become used to people who aren’t sure what elected officials actually do, and occasionally we get office-seekers in the same leaky boat. In 1992, we had just that sort of man running for mayor in the New York City of the Ozarks.

And before you ask, I’m not going to tell you his name.

But picture it if you will: Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the early 1990s, a contentious atmosphere hanging over almost every meeting in City Hall - hell, even the washington County Quorum Court was not immune. In fact, to swipe a joke they used to tell about the old Landing Strip Club on Dickson Street, when you went to a meeting of the Fayetteville Board of Directors they searched you at the door for a gun or a knife.

If you didn’t have one, they gave you one.

The incinerator battle, which went on for several years. The Great Public Access War. Activists referred to as “aginners” by the local newspaper. And to to it all off, a summer election which determined that Fayetteville would now switch from the city manager/board of directors form of government to mayor/council.

That autumn, several candidates ran for the office of mayor, an office which would no longer have largely ceremonial duties.

Oh, and did I mention that several members of the Board of Directors had earned a well-deserved reputation for being less than polite to members of the public who questioned their wisdom? Ah, that must have escaped me in all the excitement of detailing the above.

But there you have it - Fayetteville, 1992. An exciting place to live, and an an even more thrilling place to have a newspaper column and an interview program on local television.

Prior to the election I was able to get several of the mayoral candidates on my show - at different times, of course. Which brings us to today’s story.

One candidate for mayor was a former military officer, a conservative fellow who didn’t have much time for all this newfangled liberal way of looking at things.

The interview went pretty well, and he gave coherent answers, and while I might not have agreed with his views, they were rational and thought out. Until . . .

I mentioned that some in city government had earned a reputation for a certain cavalier attitude towards the public. I don’t have the tape in front of me at the moment, but this is pretty much what he said:

“If I am mayor and an alderman is rude to someone, I’ll stop the meeting right there and then and take alderman in a back room and tell him that he will never, ever be rude to a member of the public again.”

Oh, dear.

I didn’t say anything, but it was one of those moments where you wait and see if the guest will realize that they have just said something monumentally stupid, and will try to walk back the statement.


He lost the election, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t due to what he said on my show that day, and was seen by at least 17 voters.

No, he lost because he misread Fayetteville, and didn’t realize that those newfangled liberal ideas had earned their chance to be tried out.

Still, at times I have fantasies that he did win, and actually tried that particular stunt during a city council meeting. He’d have learned pretty quickly how Real Life works.


Today’s Soundtrack

The late Nancy Cooper Maier, who many remember only as the publisher of the alternative newspaper Grapevine, was also an accomplished singer/songwriter.

Her CD “Love Again” aided me considerably today. Thanks, Nancy.


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A look at Shamrock, Texas, a former Route 66 town.


Quote of the Day

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got. - Art Buchwald

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