The race has only just begun

It occurred to me that all the pre-election chatter about Kingman having "a whole new City Council" by next spring completely overlooked the possibility that all of the incumbents nearing the end of their four-year terms could enter the race. Their chances of winning, considering all the ... well, for brevity's sake let's not rehash the last year's more comedic examples of tax-dollar spoilage and just say their chances of winning would be slim, but I'm sure they would have received some votes.

However, I would compare the chance of any of them earning a majority of the vote to that of Michael Vick winning the American Humane Society's "Concern for Canines" award.

Thankfully, the hubris out of city hall supplies us lowly citizens more to buzz about. Our own vice mayor apparently is also a betting man: Despite calls for his resignation from a citizen who voiced worry about the city doing business with a man who owes taxpayers $2 billion for fraud, a citizen whom French called a "misinformed witch" for her accurate recounting of this fraudster's past activities, French felt he had bet-worthy odds of doing more than securing another term as a Council member. In an interview with Miner reporter Andraya Whitney, French declared that he's "not as unpopular as some of these people think ...," and he went so far as to tell The Standard, that had he run, he'd have gone for the mayor's seat. "The scary part about that is," French told The Standard, "if I did run, I'm sure I'd win." The scary part indeed, Mr. French.

It was a rather toothless adage to the announcement that he wasn't running again - sort of like if John Kerry had dropped out of the presidential race then declared that he would have won had he stayed in.

It was possible that voters would choose French over Monica Gates, Bill Nugent and John Salem, our candidates for the mayoral race. I say that with confidence because if there's one logical truth I've learned since moving to Kingman and witnessing city government in action, it's that one must be prepared for the possibility that the logical choice isn't necessarily the one made. (Council's three-hour evaluation of the embattled city manager and subsequent announcement of the infamous "consensus" to keep him on staff - right before we were sued because he'd signed a secret severance contract - is a good example of this. I admittedly wasn't prepared for that possibility.

After the November election, I started thinking, "hey, what if Byram, French and Carter throw in their hats to show those pesky developers, RAID and that muckraker at the Miner that they're worth the $7,000 a year we pay them to snore through two Council meetings a month?"

It was eye-opening, indeed "scary," because everybody had assumed that if the $56.7 million in bonds had passed, we'd have a new Council spending the money, ensuring it wasn't a "blank check" and seeing that the projects discussed were the ones funded. As we all waited, in anticipation I'm sure to hear if any of the incumbents had taken out the paperwork to have a run at another term, the days seemed to crawl by.

When Monica Gates announced her candidacy for mayor, I was almost sure that Byram would hit the campaign trail once again; Gates beat Byram in 2004, then Byram beat Gates in 2006, so this would be the showdown.

Even two weeks into the petition drive, with a mere 14 days left to gather the minimum 230 signatures to be placed on the ballot, I held onto the possibility that Byram would join the race and put a nail in the Gates mayoral coffin. And why not? The ribbon-cutter had a following, still does, and with the Rotary club loyalists and Silver Spoon Café patrons waiting to put him on the ballot, Byram wouldn't need but a week and a half to gather the required signatures.

Only Councilman Tom Spear, the fourth incumbent, had announced his plans - plans not to run.

Finally the day of reckoning came, and Byram, French and Carter bowed out. In the end, all those assuming "a whole new City Council" - at least four of the seven, a majority - were right. But the fun didn't stop there: not only did Mr. "misinformed witch" himself accuse people of being "uncivil" at Council meetings in his interview, but Byram too took a few swings on his way out. And who else but his old rival Ms. Gates could be on the receiving end. "... I would hope that in the best interest of the citizens of our city that Monica Gates would withdraw her candidacy ... If not, the citizens should remember why they overwhelmingly removed her from office two years ago." (Overwhelmingly, here, refers to the landslide 775 votes that gave Byram the win in 2006.)

Carter was the only one not to spout off about something or someone, saying, "I really don't need a reason, but I have plenty of personal things I want to do, and that's what I'm going to do."

So goes the nature of the campaigns - nail-biting to the bitter end. Of course, now we have four months of more nail-biting to look forward to as the 13 candidates vying for public office jab each other on platforms and goals and experience and - bet on it - affiliations in hopes of stealing a few dozen election-swinging votes.

Stay tuned. The party has just begun.