Today I am publishing Part 2 of my post on the 2021 City Council elections. I will briefly discuss each of the 4 seats up for election in 2021, beginning with the uncompetitive races.
Mayor. Council Member Peyton Jamison is running un-opposed and is succeeding Mayor Joe Lockwood, who has served as Mayor since the City’s founding in 2006. I know Peyton quite well, as we worked closely together on Laura Bentley’s 8-member campaign team in 2017. (Peyton and I actually organized the campaign team, which always met at my home, but that is a story for another blog post.) In 2017, I exposed the clandestine redrawing of the boundaries for District 1 (see below link to The Milton Herald’s Black Box article). In the wake of this scandal, the incumbent Council Member opted not to run for re-election, and Peyton ran unopposed for his current council seat.
I have spoken frequently with Peyton since his election. We don’t always agree, but I appreciate Peyton’s willingness to listen to all citizens and to consider all sides of an issue. Peyton has a lot of energy and has matured during his 4 years in office. However, to be successful as mayor, Peyton must be his own man—i.e., step out of Lockwood’s shadow. He also must surround himself with smart people who offer him differing perspectives on Milton’s pressing issues. He must stay above the fray and focus on process and principles, separating himself from the personality politics being pursued by Council Members Moore and Bentley—the sort of middle school nonsense that has plagued the city since its founding (and once necessitated the hiring of an industrial psychologist to address Council’s dysfunction). Peyton must also demonstrate more courage (than in the past) in the face of threats to the community. And lastly, Peyton must adopt a much stronger approach to ensuring accountability of the City’s non-elected leadership; the City is currently experiencing a serious Crisis of Competence.
District 3 covers the Highway 9 and Windward Parkway areas of Milton (and includes the expansive Crooked Creek subdivision). District 3 is Milton’s most dense district. Jan Jacobus is the only candidate to qualify in District 3. Mr. Jacobus has served on the Planning Commission for several years, so has some familiarity with City government, particularly land-use issues. I do not know Mr. Jacobus, but have heard good things about him. Even though running unopposed, I hope Mr. Jacobus nevertheless creates a web page that lays out his positions on issues of concern to citizens. I hope his stances emphasize the critical importance of adhering to the highest principles of good governance.
District 1 encompasses Crabapple and the surrounding areas. Three candidates are running for the District 1 seat. Relatively speaking, all three candidates are political newbies. The candidates are Adam D’Anella, Jami Tucker, and Andrea Verhoff. At a later date, I will post links to their campaign websites. My advice to these candidates is to focus on elements of good governance: integrity/honesty, fairness, accountability, rigor, and transparency. Good governance is prerequisite to good policy-making, but has not been a focus for the City of Milton, with predictably bad results.
District 2 encompasses the more rural, (much) less dense and mostly AG1 areas of Milton. Insurgent candidate Juliette Johnson is taking on Old Guard candidate Laura Bentley. Ms. Johnson is one of the owners of The Painted Horse. Ms. Johnson has been accused of “running for the wrong reason”—i.e., revenge for the levying of (overly severe) restrictions on The Painted Horse. However, such accusations are ridiculous . . . and self-serving, I might add. Ms. Johnson and Ms. Jackson (the other co-owner of The Painted Horse) have experienced first-hand the dysfunction at City Hall and have been the victims of Milton’s version of a Star Chamber where they’ve had no opportunity to hear–moreover defend themselves from–“charges” leveled against them. It is certainly a right (and excellent) reason to run (for Council) to expose and eliminate the governmental excesses and abuses that Ms. Johnson has directly experienced. Furthermore, Integrity is an appropriate plank in Ms. Johnson’s campaign platform, given the low road being travelled by some politicians in Milton. However, to win, Ms. Johnson must make her campaign about more than the Painted Horse, although her experience with Council overreach is certainly an issue she can (and should) lead with. However, the past 4 years of city government are rich with failures, unsolved problems, broken campaign promises, abuses of power, etc. that Ms. Johnson can tap into.
In contrast to Ms. Johnson, Ms. Bentley represents the Old Guard in Milton. In 2017, like Ms. Johnson (in 2021), Ms. Bentley ran as an insurgent (that I believed she was), but the reality is that Ms. Bentley (along Council Member Paul Moore) is an old hand at Milton politics—her involvement stretching back to the first city elections when she was a foot soldier for one of the two factions battling it out in Milton. And unfortunately once in office, Ms. Bentley almost immediately put on her old faction’s jersey. Laura reverted to the tired politics (e.g., favors for friends) of days past when Milton’s two factions spent much more time battling each other than focusing on pressing City problems. Citizens need to carefully consider whether the time has come to reject the unproductive factionalism of yesteryear and to chart a new course for the City—a Milton united by principles of good governance.
The focus of the blog will be on the District 2 race, as that election really provides the best basis for discussing and understanding current city politics and governance.
Advocating For Truth in Politics and Governance,