So now we know who’s running for Danville City Council. Let’s take a look at the field and see what’s out there.
Five spots are open and all five incumbents have filed for reelection (told you that you would, David Luther), and two challengers make it a seven person field. Because one of the challengers is riding a wave of support that’s going to get him elected, at least one of the incumbents is going to be out. Let’s go to a breakdown of the race as of now…
Lee Vogler: I’m starting with Vogler because he’s got a lot of money and support for somebody that’s still in his Political Pampers. Vogler is saying the right things to energize young voters and old voters haven’t told him to get the hell off their lawn yet. He’s strong now and will probably be the top votegetter.
How Lee Vogler can win the election: Keep the money coming in and make sure he remains likeable to most people.
How Lee Vogler can lose the election: Vogler’s ego is already red-lining so there’s always a danger of really believing your own hype. Also, a candidate that is depending on the young vote needs to remember to make sure the young actually vote.
OddsMakers of Lee Vogler winning a council seat: 100%, Lee Vogler is a lock.
David Luther: David Luther is currently Vice-Mayor and does his homework on every City Council issue. He’s a smart businessman and he brings that experience to the council. Luther is the type of person who tells you the truth, no matter how painful it is.
How David Luther can win the election: Luther needs to press the issue that he brings a business acumen to the council. I’m betting that only about 30% of Danville residents really understand how dire this year’s budget is and it’s not going to get any better. If Luther can get the voters to see that he’s a businessman, he should make it back for another 4-year term.
How David Luther can lose the election: With one incumbent on the chopping block because of the Vogler juggernaut, it’s going to be important for Luther to get some crossover votes from the black voting precincts. If that doesn’t happen, Luther is in danger…but not much danger.
OddsMakers of David Luther winning a council seat: 90%
Fred Shanks: Shanks is a Danville business owner who’s seen tough economic times in his own business. He’s got a lot of city government experience, having served on the Planning Commission before getting elected to City Council. Like David Luther, Shanks is tight on the city treasury. However, Shanks has made his position clear in searching for cuts before tax increases and that’s been well-received by Danville’s taxpayers. Shanks also has higher political aspirations but there’s nothing available right now for him to move up to the state level.
How Fred Shanks can win the election: Shanks is in the same position as David Luther. He’ll win if he drills the bad budget situation into the voters’ heads. Shanks has also got to avoid the inevitable incumbent elimination, but he’s got the name recognition to make it happen.
How Fred Shanks can lose the election: It’s the same issue that David Luther has. Shanks has to attract some of the black vote, but as for now he also seems able to do that.
OddsMakers of Fred Shanks winning a council seat: 90%
Sherman Saunders: The incumbent mayor has taken some heat last year over the budget process. Adam Tomer rightfully called Saunders out during the final budget vote for his “No” vote. Saunders was clearly offended by Tomer’s remarks but other Danville residents agreed, thinking that Saunders went through the entire budget process agreeing with the process but casting a convenient “No” vote when it was clear the pared-down budget was going to pass. That being said, Saunders is probably the best ambassador that Danville has had in a long time. Danville voters associate Saunders with his smiling face and that’s good for the vote totals.
How Sherman Saunders can win the election: It’s probably going to piss a few people off, but I have a record of speaking the painful truth as well. Saunders is going to get a lot of votes in the black voting precincts because of his race. That’s not a racist comment, it’s just a clearly-shown trend based of numerous previous elections. The black voting precincts has shown an obvious trend towards “bullet-voting” (where you can vote up to X number of candidates, but you vote only a smaller number… as in only the candidates that you specifically want to be elected). This hasn’t always worked to perfection as Joyce Glaise was voted off of council before. The question is does Saunders still have overwhelming support in those precincts and I’m not sure of that. For Saunders to survive the elimination, he’s going to have to maintain his likability in the black precincts and hope that the predominately white precincts continue to support him as they have in the past. I believe that Saunders still has a degree of what I’ve just said but I do have some doubts. Saunders has to showcase all of the good things that’s happened over the past four years and keep that smiling face.
How Sherman Saunders can lose the election: If he doesn’t get the black support in this race, Saunders is in danger of elimination.
OddsMakers of Sherman Saunders winning the election: 60%
Larry Campbell: Campbell is soft-spoken but he carries the proverbial big stick. He’s got a dedicated base of support and he’s well-known in the community. Don’t let Campbell’s quietness fool you… he’s heavily involved in what happens in Danville.
How Larry Campbell can win the election: Be seen in public, say the right things and let the votes fall where they will.
How Larry Campbell can lose the election: Ain’t gonna happen.
OddsMakers of Larry Campbell winning the election: 100%
Buddy Rawley: Rawley is an enigma to me. He’s soft-spoken like Campbell but unlike Campbell, a lot of people don’t recognize him at times. He’s conservative in his views but needs to get his views across to mesh with this year’s voters. He’s a man who knows how to manage money, but does he have enough strength to win another term?
How Buddy Rawley can win the election: Rawley needs to be highly visible and strong in this campaign. If voters say “Buddy Who?”, he’s in big danger of not surviving this race. Door-to-door and signs (which means time and money) are going to be key in Rawley’s chances for another term.
How Buddy Rawley can lose the election: If Rawley remains in relative obscurity during the campaign, it’s going to be tough. He can attempt to win the black voters like Luther & Shanks will have to do, but I have this feeling it’s going to take a much harder effort for him to do that. In this year’s race, you’re going to have to avoid finishing sixth (I’ll explain that when I get to Thomas Motley) and I feel Rawley and Saunders are going to have to fight to avoid that spot.
OddsMakers on Buddy Rawley winning the election: 50%
Thomas Motley: Motley is a Danville preacher who is best known for waging war on Danville’s utility rates. He’s won a lot of his utility issues but he’s lacking on other issues that are important to the city. Unfortunately for Danville (no matter how painful it is for me to say it), this is a town that is still divided by racial lines often and Motley has no traction in the “Windsor Heights & Forest Hills” areas. Motley is a very good guy who’s overcome his personal issues in the past, but I just don’t see him getting much support from the white voters in this election. I really wish I was wrong on this, but after seeing the reaction of the “Business People” to Motley’s purple suit that he wore to the 2010 Chamber of Commerce forum, I just don’t see it happening.
How Thomas Motley can win the election: Motley has got to develop a well-rounded platform on the issues facing Danville and not focus on utility bills. Motley also needs a lot of door-to-door campaigning in areas that didn’t support him in 2010 and make voters realize he’s a viable candidate. He’s also going to need almost-unanimous support in the black community and get a good amount of white voter support. Motley’s campaign in 2010 was woefully underfunded and he never had a real chance to win then, which is sad because he was a viable candidate with ideas of his own. He’s going to need a lot of money to get his message across.
How Thomas Motley can lose the election: Of all of the seven candidates in this year’s race, Motley is the longshot in the field. He’s going to have appeal to all voters and I just don’t think he can do that. There are also a lot of narrow-minded people that will bring up Motley’s past and use that against him. That’s not fair to him as he has changed himself and became a good citizen… but that’s another sad part of the mindset of Danville voters. Motley would make a good councilman like the rest of the field, but it’s just not going to happen unless he pulls off the longshot.
OddsMakers on Thomas Motley winning the election: 5%
Recap: Yeah, I said it and I’ll say it again. Danville can be racially divided on a lot of things and elections are one of them. Yell at me all you want, call me whatever names you want, but the numbers show the trend. Now let’s get to the real recap…
Lee Vogler is on fire. He’s got likability and campaign money. He’s in as a challenger barring a complete meltdown and he’ll probably get the most votes if he doesn’t piss off the rich voters (believe it or not, Danville has some rich people left). Larry Campbell is also a lock for re-election based on his support base.
Fred Shanks & David Luther should be safe in this election if they spend the money necessary to run a good campaign. If they reach out to the voters who are taxpayers and preach their message, they should win.
Thomas Motley just doesn’t have much of a chance in this field, though it would be fun to see a “Why The Hell Not?” anti-incumbent surge put him on the council. I fully expect Motley to keep up his utility bill fight no matter what happens.
So as of now, that’s one out and four in for five seats. We’re down to Sherman Saunders & Buddy Rawley and this is going to get interesting. I expect zero negative campaigning in this race from all of the candidates so I believe it’s going to be who reaches out and connects with the voters. Saunders has the smiling face and recognition advantage over Rawley now, but there’s a lot of time for that to change. You can ask Seward Anderson (a former Danville mayor) on how fickle the voters can be. He hasn’t won anything since his council days. Will Saunders go from mayor to out-the-door? We’ll find out soon enough. Now that I’m not in the television business, I plan on issuing endorsements in political races from now on but at this time I’m not ready to tell you who I’ll be voting for because I’m not sure yet.
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