Sex, Trains, and Ideology – Sykesville Online’s Guide to Picking a Town Council Candidate

by Jack White on May 6, 2013

Oh, man, it’s time to vote for town council, and I’m kind of stumped. The problem is they all seem so nice. They all seem so qualified and dedicated and truly concerned about the town. They all volunteer their time and do good things.

What is wrong with these people?

Why isn’t anyone fighting? Why can’t we have a big war over big issues like basketball hoops or the post office or…something…anything? Jeez, this race is friendly to the point of boredom. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get to vote without someone sitting in the corner to make sure we don’t cheat.

But still, despite what might look like a lack of controversy and big issues and big differences between the candidates, you should vote. Let the winners feel like they won something. Let them have a sense of accomplishment and a bit of a mandate to do whatever it is they say they’re going to do. Being on Sykesville’s town council is not exactly a cushy job. It’s basically volunteer work.

I’d love to be on town council, if it wouldn’t require me attending meetings twice a month for almost no money, making decisions, and getting hated by people for things I might not even do.

So let’s look at some ways you can divide up your votes.

First you could go with sex.

Sex is always a good option. For instance, you could vote for all males, or if you’re like me, and partial to females, you could vote for all females. Right now the council has only one woman, poor Julia Betz. Doesn’t she need some female companionship? Don’t we all?

Do we really need six old boring guys and one lady again? I’m leaning toward voting all women, in other words, Anna Carter, Stacy Link, and Debbie Ellis. I think they’d be terrific.

Plus, it would be a first. Unless I’m missing something, never in the history of Sykesville has the council had more women than men. Isn’t it about time?

Give the women a chance. I bet they’d create a much more interesting, warm, and inviting town than a bunch of guys.

But then there’s this.

One candidate is named John Ellis and one is named Debbie Ellis, and it turns out they’re married. Now these are really smart people. I’ve heard Debbie described as brilliant. Of course, it was her husband who said it, but still.

Do we really want to split up a married couple? Once again, if I’m not mistaken, we would have a first. Our first married council members. But, on the other hand, would this actually be good for their marriage?

Well, I’m still leaning female, but is it really fair to base all my decisions on sex? I mean, sure, in my twenties, but I’m older now.

So let’s look at the guys. But not too closely. And remember, if you vote for them, you’ll have to stare at them for four years (or I should say four more in the case of Leo Keenan), and this assumes you actually attend council meetings, which you don’t, but if you did, imagine what you’d be facing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like the guys, and in fact, Leo Keenan provides me with a particular problem by not being a woman. I like his answers to our questions on the blog. In fact, it looks like Joe Moltz likes Leo’s answers, too.

Leo’s a generous guy. He’s been doing the council gig for something like six years now without accepting a cent, which means he’s given up about 12 grand.

He’s nuts.

Believe me, if I’m on the council, I’m taking the money. That 12 grand’s a semester at McDaniel, where my daughter is starting in the fall and which I have no idea how I’m affording.

But here’s the other thing. Sometimes I write things for the Carroll County Times and Westminster Patch. And when you write the things I write in the county where I write them, you make enemies. Sometimes psychotic. Sometimes you make enemies who absolutely hate your guts and sneak up at a public meeting at Carroll Community College and hiss into your ear, “Mr. White, Mr. White, when you least expect it, expect it.”

Which if you’re a mild-mannered, frightened guy like me, who also happens to receive 89 pages of hate mail the week before the threat (three stuffed envelopes full of pictures of Obama with monkey ears and a tail and the words socialist, Marxist, Fascist, liberal, and Nazi sprinkled liberally throughout), well you get a little intimidated, and you go to a lawyer about taking the woman who threatened you to court, and the lawyer is Leo Keenan and he gives you good advice and charges you no money, and you owe him.

So how can I vote for three women, when Leo is clearly not a woman?

Now since I’ve spent all this time on Leo, I should mention Joe Moltz and John Ellis, and ideology. Leo Keenan is not an ideologue. I hate ideologues. Mayor Miller has an ideology. He is, in case you haven’t heard, a fiscal conservative. This means that he’s not allowed to think. He must consult the ideology and then make the decisions that the ideology dictates, and the ideology dictates that under no circumstances can you consider spending money, even for a few signs to support your campaign.

I’m a practical guy. I think you look at problems and solve them. I don’t think you consult the fiscal conservative rule book first.

But I could vote ideology.

I’m sure that if I were to look at the personal politics of the candidates, I would line up well with Stacy Link, Debbie Ellis, and John Ellis. So in a purely ideological world, that’s who I would vote for, and I would still get two women. Figuratively speaking.

Which has nothing to do with Joe Moltz. I like Joe, and although some of his answers were along the lines of “I agree with what Leo said,” he also gave some good, well-considered answers. And like Ian Shaw and Stacy Link, he took the time to have a movie made at the Carroll County media center, and at least one sign put out on the roads.

And he answered a lot of my questions. Even the dumb ones. In fact, I think he’s the only person to answer my rock star question, and fortunately, he didn’t pick Elvis as the star he’d most like to be.

He picked Buddy Holly. I thought that was an inspired choice. Unfortunately he came back later and also chose Neil Diamond, which cancelled Buddy Holly right out. Joe, Neil Diamond? Come on, man.

Joe’s a train guy. I like train guys. I love the sound of the train’s distant whistle when I’m lying in bed at night trying to figure out how to pay for college.

I have fond memories of trains and Christmas. We had these big trains that ran around a platform beneath our tree. One year I got the Ziggy Stardust 8-track. I can still hear Bowie screaming. “Five years, my brain hurts a lot, five years, that’s all we’ve got.” Humanity is dying, you see.

I can still see our train running through the little plastic town with the little plastic post office and little plastic diner and little plastic people waiting at the little plastic train station, like a little plastic Sykesville in the forties, and the transformer smells and sometimes the trains fall and a plastic person dies, and my brother shoots me in the back of the head with a rubber tipped arrow.

Joe’s main problem, besides Neil Diamond, is that he’s gotten himself embroiled in the post office controversy. He said some things the post office ladies didn’t like. I love the post office ladies, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like Joe, too. So despite the Neil Diamond thing, and despite that he’s not a woman and that he’s got enemies, I still think Joe would make a fine councilman.

Now, I really can’t say much about John Ellis. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer any of my questions, which I don’t take personally, and actually, I think he did answer one, pointing out that he’s been doing the town website free for many years. And I have a feeling he and I agree on most things, and I would be happy to vote for him, even if it might have damaging effects on his marriage. I just don’t know him.

Anyway, I’m not voting based solely on sex. I’m not voting based solely on ideology. I think I’m voting for Leo Keenan because he did me a favor. Maybe that’s shallow, but that’s how I operate.

And being as I just admitted to being shallow, I will base my other two votes on sex, because I would like at least three women on the town council, which means I’m down to Stacy Link, Debbie Ellis, and Anna Carter.

We All Live in a Yellow Submarine

Of the three, I know Anna the least. She’s new here. But I definitely am not ruling her out. You see, I’ve been a huge Beatles fan since I heard “She Loves You” on the jukebox while playing pinball in Philadelphia when I was 9. Man, that song. It was like getting splashed with happiness.

So what does Anna have to do with the Beatles? The Yellow Submarine, man. You see, she and her husband have a business called Undersea Outfitters on Main Street. I buy all my oxygen tanks and snorkels there, and they either own, rent, or…I don’t know. They have something to do with a yellow submarine. It’s a tiny, one-person sub, and I saw it parked behind their place once, and anyone cool enough to either own or be closely associated with a yellow submarine is worth being on Sykesville’s town council.

Plus, Anna complimented one of my history stories. Plus my youngest daughter’s name is Anna, my grandmom’s name was Anna, and Anna Karenina was named Anna, which means Anna Carter is either named after my grandmom or a major character in a Tolstoy novel, who threw herself in front of a train.

(Just to make clear, it was Anna Karenina, not my grandmom, who threw herself in front of a train. My grandpop did once throw my grandmom in front of a train, but he threw her too hard and she landed on the platform on the other side. She didn’t talk to him for a week.)

So, as you can see, I’m down with Tolstoy, the Beatles, and Annas. And with “we all live in a yellow submarine” playing in my head, and starting to get annoying, I’m seriously considering voting for Anna Carter. She’s nice. Nice matters.

But is that fair to Debbie or Stacy, neither of whom has any direct association with the Beatles? (Perhaps I should vote for my friend Linda Dore, who follows Paul McCartney around in an RV. Unfortunately she’s not running.)

The Phillies Hat Gets the Vote

Well, maybe it’s not fair. And the fact is, I’m already voting for Stacy. It’s the Phillies hat, you see.

It turns out that among a lot of other appealing characteristics, Stacy grew up a bit of a tomboy and a huge baseball fan in a very small Pennsylvania town, and like Stacy, who grew up studying, memorizing, and quoting the batting averages, ERAs and other stats of Pittsburgh Pirates, I did the same with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Stacy was a Pirates fan. I should hate her for that. Back in the late seventies, the Pirates and Phillies had a huge rivalry. When the Pirates won the World Series in 1979, I seriously considered filling my pockets with rocks and wading out into the Delaware, like Virginia Wolfe.

When the Phillies won it in 1980, I danced for three days straight. Finally my ex-wife, Lisa, hired someone from the Philadelphia zoo to shoot me with one of those tranquilizer darts they use on overexcited elephants. They had to hit me three times.

Anyway, when Stacy played shortstop in little league, she was on the Phillies and forced to wear a Phillies hat. And she looked quite good in it. And since the Phillies have been a dominant team in recent times, and the Pirates have been feeble forever, I’m not going to hold the Pirates against her.

Stacy made a nice video. Stacy is knocking on doors. Stacy has cute little signs with gold lettering. Stacy isn’t one of us rich suburban subdivision dwellers living in the big houses. She’s renovating an old blue thing that’s been in Sykesville forever. She’s working hard for the town. She’s possessed with the spirit of Sykesville. I’m voting for Stacy.

So it’s down to Debbie or Anna.

I already told you why I love Anna. We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, etc.

Ah, but Debbie. Debbie was on the council before. Debbie is brilliant, and it’s not just her husband who says so. I’ve got it from other very reliable sources, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I’ve seen her speak her mind at town council meetings. I’ve heard her state in articulate and impassioned tones her support for the post office and the women who ran it and did so much for our town.

She’s smart. She’s dedicated. She’s tough. She’s cool. She’ll provide a certain intellect and balance that the town council needs. She’ll make a fine replacement for Chris True. She will be excellent.

I can be bought.

So that’s my story folks. Call me shallow, but I’m voting for Leo, Stacy, and either Anna or Debbie, whichever one sends me a stuffed envelope with 300 bucks between now and Tuesday. If they both send me 300, I’m dumping Leo.

Everyone who’s running is making a sacrifice. Everyone who’s running deserves to win. Only three can. I wish them all luck and thank them for answering some of my questions and keeping it all clean and positive.

Happy Monday.

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