The Corner

Politics & Policy

Most of These Mayors Have Been in Public Office for Decades

Voter Michael Grabowski holds an “I Voted” sticker, Peru, Ill., March 17, 2020. (Daniel Acker/Reuters)

In today’s Morning Jolt, I ripped most of America’s current political leaders for habitually forming their beliefs based upon comforting narratives rather than the facts in front of them. After arsonists set fire to buildings, looters ransacked stores, and brutes hurt innocent people, some mayors and governors preferred to believe it was all the work of outside interlopers, white nationalists, drug cartels or heavily driven by foreign intelligence operations. While those may be minor or contributing factors in the coast-to-coast chaos, the overwhelming majority of those committing acts of violence on camera were young people eagerly embracing the excuse to commit crimes of opportunity, driven by selfishness and malevolence.

But my assessment probably didn’t blame the electorate enough. States and localities did not merely elect these leaders; in most cases, they reelected them. For those in their first term, the voters knew darn well what kind of men they were.

President Donald Trump is seeking a second term. New York City mayor Bill De Blasio is nearing the end of his second term; before that he was a city councilman and held the office of city public advocate. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is in his third term. Minnesota governor Tim Walz is in his first term, but he was a congressman for twelve years before this office. Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey was elected in 2017 but was on the city council for four years before that. Saint Paul mayor Melvin Carter was elected in 2017 as well but was on the city council from 2008 to 2013.  Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti is in his second term; he was on the city council from 2001 to 2013. Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser is in her second term and was on the city council from 2007 to 2015. Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney is in his second term and before becoming mayor, was on the city council for 23 years.

These elected officials are known quantities. They cannot blame inexperience. They know their cities and states well. They went before their electorates and assured them that they knew what to do in a crisis and would act quickly. But for these past five or six nights, the best you can say of these leaders is that they tried and fell short. Some will question how hard they tried. Frey declared Friday night that he and the police chief “decided early that the option to vacate the 3rd Precinct needed to be on the table as a way to both help deescalate and prevent hand-to-hand combat.”

Does the situation in Minneapolis look deescalated to you?

Residents of these cities have every reason to be furious with their governors and mayors, who turned out to be so hesitant and feeble when vulnerable residents needed them the most. But at some point they should ask themselves . . . why did we elect and reelect these guys?

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