Last week, one of my agents attended a Southern Arizona Lodging and Resort Association (SALARA) luncheon. Instead of the usual guest speaker, they hosted a candidate forum. Kathleen Dunbar, Fred Ronstadt, Nina Trasoff, and Karin Uhlich attended. Steve Leal did not attend. Two Democrats and two Republicans, at least it would be a fair fight.
Now, there was no fighting actually, and no feathers flew, but there were definitely two enemy camps present that day. The event was at a conference room at the Doubletree Inn on South Alvernon Way. About thirty people attended. Except for the candidates, the audience was almost exclusively from the Hotel/Lodging industry. The first candidates to arrive were Trasoff and Uhlich, who sat together at one of the five circular tables. Ronstadt and Dunbar arrived separately, and ended up sitting together at a different table. Both groups were close enough to each other to launch attacks with small arms â€“ including bladed weapons.
The poor MC clearly had now prior experience with politicians. She actually said, â€œEach candidate will have five or ten minutes to speak.â€ Now, this is like saying to a junkie, â€œIâ€™m going to give you five or ten grams of heroineâ€¦â€ at which point the junkie grabs the speaker by the collar and screams, â€œWhich is it!? Five or ten!?! I need to know now!â€
Continuing on, the MC invited Trasoff to speak first. The perky Trasoff smiled and started rummaging through her briefcase. She paused, and started rummaging some more. She mumbled, â€œI canâ€™t find my notes; I left my notes on my desk,â€ then, addressing the MC, she explained that she did not have her notes, and perhaps someone else should go first. The MC, sounding as if she knew that she was out of her depth, tentatively invited Dunbar to start. Dunbar, apparently sensing some sort of sneaky Democrat trick, declined and remain glued to her chair. There was a protracted awkward silence, then, perhaps in desperation, the MC asked Uhlich if she would like to start. Uhlich smiled, popped out of her seat, and saved the day.
The short speeches were predictable. The Republican incumbents told of the great job they were doing and cited examples. The Democrat challengers told of their respective backgrounds, and of the stinky job the Republicans were doing â€“ also citing examples. All the candidates included some form of the phrase â€œâ€¦and I donâ€™t have to tell you how important that is to your industry!â€ No real fights ensued, though Ronstadt did use the phrase â€œThatâ€™s a lie, and I have the documents on the table to prove it.â€
Trasoff waved around a old pamphlet that was used to sell the Rio Nuevo project to the voters, and complained that the current plan resembles little the concept-plan that they approved. She should really avoid doing that, it makes her appear terribly naÃ¯ve. Speaking of predictable, Trasoff uttered the usual â€œrespectâ€, and â€œmulticulturalismâ€ buzz words, and accused the Republicans of trying to balance the budget â€œon the backs of children and families,â€ blah, blah, blah.
Interestingly, Ronstadt used the term â€œProgressive Majorityâ€ no fewer than three times when referring to the Republicans and others on the City Council. Now, we all know that â€œprogressiveâ€ is a code word for â€œcommieâ€, so what was Ronstadt smoking? Ahh! But wait, this phrase, â€œProgressive Majorityâ€ has been used by Trasoff to describe the goal of the Democrats regarding the makeup of the new City Council after the Democrats are elected. Could Ronstadt be commandeering the phrase, taking it from Trasoff? My agent asked Nina if she thought this might be the case, and she just looked at him as if he were the naÃ¯ve one.
Uhlich is amazing. She is always â€œonâ€, always cool, never flustered, and she misses nothing. She spoke of â€œThe link between quality of life and the economy.â€ We agree that increased prosperity can be a heap big factor in the â€œquality of lifeâ€ â€“ particularly for those at the lower income levels. We find it strange, however, that the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity â€“ for whom Uhlrich is the Executive Director – advocates â€œminimum wageâ€ and â€œliving wageâ€ laws that hurt entry level workers by pricing them out of the labor market. Surely she understands this; after all, she has been working with homeless and low-income people for decades â€“ both at the Southwest Center for Economic Integrity, and at the Primavera Foundation. Iâ€™ll make a note to ask her about that one.
More to come!