Do you know what has been turning my stomach as of late? In the race for Pittsburgh's next mayor, the local media, including local weekly alternative City Paper seems to have their collective panties wet for Republican Mark DeSantis. For some reason they seem to think that this guy will be a beacon of reform; the second coming who will save us from the bumbling of Democrat Luke Ravenstahl. I'll concede that Ravenstahl hasn't been the ideal mayor. It is his inexperience and seeming inability to learn from mistakes the first time around which trip him up. However, he is not nearly as incompetent as certain columnists (John McIntire with his vicious, vacuous and unnecessary "Mayor Opie" spiel) would have you believe.
As an aside, I'd like every member of the media who has used the phrase "Mayor Opie" to know that those of us who are the same age as the mayor don't particularly appreciate being marginalized in such a way. The voting age is 18, in case you hacks forgot that. You can make fun of all of Ravenstahl's flaws all you like (i.e.: playing fanboy to Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open), but leave age out of it; this is an irrelevant and, frankly, cheap shot.
I honestly do not know where the DeSantis love-fest is coming from. True, Pittsburgh hasn't had a Republican mayor since the Great Depression, and some people think that change would be a good thing. However, given the track record of the modern Republican party, do you really think trading one mainstream party for another is optimal? By and large, Democrats have become experts at maintaining the status quo, no longer a progressive party by virtue of the fact that they have to spend the majority of their time undoing the damage done by their Republican counterparts (who aren't so much a conservative party as a regressive party). This, of course, is contingent upon the Democrats having the backbone to stand up and do anything at all.
I can tell you what would happen if DeSantis is elected mayor, assuming that it doesn't create a permanent gridlock with the city council. The fact that he sent significant donations to Rick Santorum should raise alarms for progressives everywhere. In any case, the remaining rich will see their taxes go down, most likely at the expense of city services. I seriously doubt any politician is interested in shrinking city government (see Taxes under the issues column of DeSantis' website) and the fact that he used the draconian phrase "right-size" indicates to me that, like Dan Onorato who used it before him in reference to the Port Authority, cuts to service are more important than trimming the administrative fat.
I'm not saying that DeSantis is the devil incarnate (although that Santorum donation may very well put him in league with the devil), but I doubt that he is the change that Pittsburgh is looking for. I do not trust it when the media grips onto something and paints it as some great watershed - everyone should be asking, "what's the catch?" and "What's the real story?" The mainstream media are loathe to do such things.
I say that if Pittsburgh wants a real alternative to the political landscape of the past several decades, they should look outside of the two mainstream parties. No vote should go to the Republican party, however, ideally this would be a race between Democrat Luke Ravenstahl and Socialist Ryan Scott. Scott (who is three years younger than Ravenstahl, in case you lame columnists need any more "Opie" wank-fodder), who works in the city as a meat-packer, officially announced his candidacy at a rally on Saturday, July 14th. I'm not endorsing Scott, but I will reiterate that he is a true alternative to the status quo, should Pittsburgh want one. A Republican is not an alternative, but a major step backwards. Pittsburgh hasn't had a Republican mayor for well over half a century and it would be a shame to break that streak now. So, I say vote for either Luke Ravenstahl or Ryan Scott. Ignore the empty hype for the party George Bush and Dick Cheney are arrogant members of.