Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dane County Board Race: Oh, it's on now.

(x-posted at Muckrakers)

So, as you may have seen from the Critical Badger, two students have filed to run for the open seat left by Ashok Kumar: Wyndham Manning and Conor O'Hagan. So what can we expect?

Conor O'Hagan, as was noted, is an active member of ASM. Suchita spoke quite highly of him, said that's he been a very involved member of ASM. He currently serves on the Morgridge Center Committee, Dean of Students Advisory Board, Student Organization Committee...the list goes on and on. And he's only a freshman? I'm trying to get some more information on him and have sent him something asking for a little more background, reasoning, etc.

Wyndham Manning, however, I do know him. Wyndham was the WUD Music Director last year, one of the prime organizers behind Madison Pop Fest and all-around mover and shaker in Madison's music scene. I've known him to be very opinionated about...well, everything. but didn't know he was interested in politics.

Of course, according to him, he really isn't. And that's part of his plan, according to an email he just sent:
I don't feel it necessary to have more of the "campus elite" (as you guys call them) stepping in line to take these offices, I want regular people to take control, the people who are passionate about the community, not the office. That's sort of how I envisioned Madison when I came here: a forward thinking progressive city run by very passionate people and that's what I want to try to add to. So returning to the original conception for running, I wanted to do it so that I could learn more indepth about how the city operates, how elections work and how I can turn my griping into solutions.

So, a political outsider, eh? Thinks he is just going to walk into the election and find his bearing on a County Board? Easy to be skeptical since he isn't an active political operative. However, considering how he's been pretty vocal about how Madison could be run with more efficiency (although that isn't just the county), it might be best that way. Ashok Kumar may have alienated people given his position in SLAC, but Wyndham could actually attract a more diverse student body if he targets them right. But then again, there is always the possibility of a different sort of elitism to surface along the way. (music snobs, anyone? I know I am.)

However, something that did sound interesting is that he had some plans to run an alternative campaign of guerilla political campaigning - a way of reaching students on this campus without being stiff and pointing out the problems of this city. A different approach would be useful at this point. The usual protests don't seem to garner nearly as much support as they did in the old days and one thing seems to be missing from this city: political energy. If Wyndham can bring it (and his partnership with Jesse Russell could help), he could do a lot of good for Dane County.

But, that's yet to be seen. When it comes time to vote, we'll need to see specific positions and initiatives. Wyndham doesn't seem to have any specifics yet. Certainly, he just got into it, but I'll keep prodding him. Once I get some word from Conor, I'll provide another post.


Anonymous said...

So its musician spurring with the nuclear engineer.... even if the Dems have his back, both seem like untraditional candidates.

Critical Badger said...

The major of the person is kinda irrelevent. Conor with the backing of the CDems should be the mainstream candidate, but Manning has interesting connections to the Union-types, who are also very political on campus (Union Initiative, anyone?) so this may be a heavy weight battle.

A few things on the post:

1. I don't think any candidate running on campus tries to be "stiff" regarding their position. Kumar, Woods, Judge, Korn, all had a professional sense to their campaign, but they weren't hiring campaign buses and having theme songs. I'm not sure exactly what he means by a different type of campaign.

2. You mentioned how Ashok aliented people, but that was hardly during his 2006 campaign, where he in fact *gained* support, from Democrats to moderates. Although many of those people jumped ship (may I cite the Judge victory) I don't think Ashok's protesting had anything to do with his campaign tactics in 2006. Perhaps you meant the protesting while in office and that Manning will try to *lead* differently. That I might accept.

3. Funny he used the term campus elites. I thought only my blog did that.

4. I do not think Jesse will give him a bump on campus. Only a few people are truly experienced with campus organizing and unless Jesse is knocking on doors for Manning (maybe that'll happen) I don't see the dane101 influence carrying any weight with the apathetic student body when it comes to local issues.

5. I'm troubled by his use of the word "city" as that this is a county job... city council elections were last spring...

6. You seem to like Manning a bit :)

Jason Smathers said...

1. Well, I mean that these people are going to look stiff by comparison. I mentioned an alternative campaign that he wanted to run even before he decided to go for the County Board seat. It sounded like he wanted to take a very unorthodox approach to engaging the public by hitting the streets with an irreverent, guerilla campaign. Again, I wait to see what that means if he still goes in that direction.

2. The latter is what I meant. Ashok is certainly part of political factions, especially SLAC. The fact that Wyndham doesn't have any ties to those groups speaks well for his ability to work without political constraints. Maybe.

3. I'm pretty sure he reads your blog. Or did at one point.

4. I'm not talking about Jesse pulling weight in this town, but more along the lines of being another idea man. I know that those two have been batting around ideas for some time now and I just have the some inkling that the meeting of their minds could either produce a brilliant campaign or a disaster.

5. And that's my biggest concern. He seems to be getting into this race as a learning experience. I'm not sure he really knows what County Board does and he didn't outline any specifics, which makes me suspect this whole thing was done on a whim.

6. Not yet. I just find it very interesting that he's running and my giddiness at not having boring budding politicos as candidates came off in this post. Maybe an outsider is a good idea, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. See what they say they're going to do and we'll go from there.

Critical Badger said...

1. I just don't think the status quo is very stiff. I think people like Austin King did a good job mixing the necessary seriousness of the campaign with a the good ol' "college" components, like not wearing ties and having beer at fundraisers. But alright, I await his Ran Paul techniques.

2. Very much depends how he aligns himself. Endorsements. Policy positions. Etc.

I just realized there isn't much more for me to address. I have similar thoughts. One quick thing on #6. I think that there is such a fine line that we need between the boring stiff political types and an outsider. Austin King, Ashok, Judge, all had political experience (Judge perhaps the least) and they all got into office with a great deal of passion. On the other hand, Adam Korn was kind of that "outside" and he was a total waste. Manning could parlay the insurgency feeling into some serious votes/a unique political position that moves him away from the "PD old guard" while keeping the progressivism he identifies with.

Anonymous said...

Wyndham doesn't have political experience but he does have experience working with a lot of UW admins, city people (he organized Halloween 2006 music things), and student and regional media. He's invested himself into Madison far more than any South Carolina-native ever has, to my knowledge. He also has a reputation of being brash and bypassing rules and bylaws whenever possible. At least within ASM. Don't know anything about Conor.


Erik Opsal said...

I thought he was from Florida? Not SC.

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