How Are You Going To Vote?
HOW does one decide on how to vote in a local election? We all know how we decide to vote in a general election — we typically go with the party we’ve always supported, no matter who the candidate is, and we call the other guy (and everyone who supports him)an idiot. Right? But local elections? Those are tricky. There are no party affiliations, so we are kind of stuck with considering the — gasp — issues! Or maybe not. Maybe we vote for the guy we know, who we like and who we chat with in the Acme every other week or so. Or maybe we simply vote AGAINST the guy we DON’T like, who we studiously avoid when we see him (or her) in the Acme.
Which one are you? Did you turn up at the Candidates’ Night, hosted by the Cape May Taxpayers’ Association, in the elementary school last Thursday? About 250 people did, and if you were one of them, I wonder what you took away from the proceedings. It wasn’t a debate, which is a shame since without a debate it’s tough to really figure out what the candidates are all about. (This is being written while the third presidential debate is happening on NBC, incidentally.)
Instead, all three candidates for the single council position that is up for grabs on November 6 — Dan Kurkowski, Shaine Meier and Terri Swain, the incumbent — answered questions without any opportunity to debate each other. Which made the proceedings a little one-dimensional. As was the square-off, a little later that night, between Mayor Ed Mahaney and the challenger for his crown, Rusty Chew.
We have very strong feelings about the mayoral race, which we will address briefly a little later in this story and in much more detail next week, but we didn’t intend to take such a strong stance in the fight for the council member seat. However, we feel that we should relate some of our opinions about what happened that night, for the benefit of those of you who didn’t turn up.
We supported Terri Swain when she ran for office four years ago, but we feel that change would be a good thing. This magazine has been, and hopefully will remain, a good friend of Terri and the Swain family, but, to our ears, she sounded a little jaded the other night, and out of ideas. By contrast, Dan and Shaine were full of vim and vigor, which is, of course, easy when you haven’t yet served in public office. Terri made the point that the views they had would turn out to be “broken promises” if they ever got into office. Which might be a realistic, or a cynical, view—depending on whether you think the glass is half-empty or half-full.
We are going to take the optimistic approach and say that City Hall needs new blood. Dan Kurkowski, a trial lawyer by trade, is, not surprisingly, an accomplished speaker. His opinions on many issues also meshed with ours quite perfectly — so we enjoyed listening to him. However, we don’t feel that Dan has had the time to get immersed in the local community. We are the last people to say you need to have lived here forever to be taken seriously, but we think Dan needs to put a few more miles on the Cape May clock before he earns the right to get a seat on city council.
Shaine ran for office a couple years ago and we said then that he was a breath of fresh air but wasn’t quite ready for the show. Now we feel that he is. Shaine has involved himself with a lot of different local organizations, and we don’t believe he has done that simply because he wants to be on city council — we think he’s done that because he actually wants to serve his community. And we think the time is right to give him that chance. Is he a little wet behind the ears? Yes. Was his support of the plan to bring the trains back to Cape May a little naive? Yes. BUT, he is a lot more knowledgeable about important local issues than most of us, and he is a thoughtful young man who seems to have his heart in the right place. He keenly wants community involvement in this town, something that a lot of politicians say… but we actually believe Shaine. And we believe that his addition to the city council would be a very good thing. Take a chance on this young man.
We also want a change in the mayoral position. Oh boy, do we want a change. There are a few reasons why we don’t think that Cape May should be voting for four more years of Ed Mahaney, and we will go in to detail next week. If you watched last week’s debate, you would probably come away with the impression that Ed knows his way around local politics. And we would be the last to argue with that opinion. In fact, we would say that Ed is as close to a professional politician as a man can get when he has a full-time job away from politics. We won’t ever say that he’s not a hard-working man. The trouble is that Ed wouldn’t NEED to spend so many hours at City Hall if he was following the law, and allowing Bruce MacLeod, the City Manager, to run the city.
But that’s not how Ed rolls. He’s a control freak. He was mayor once before, in 1995-96, in the good old days before the Faulkner Act came into play in Cape May, which took the power out of the mayor’s hands and gave it to a full-time City Manager. It’s become public knowledge that since Ed took office for a second time as mayor, in 2008, that he has run it like the good old days. Which is, of course, a breach of the law. Which is, in itself, a good reason to vote him out on November 6. There are other reasons, too, which we will address in next week’s issue. Watch this space.
Seriously Good Talking
WHAT can make a person want to be indoors, behind closed curtains, on a day like last Sunday? A day when — nearing the end of October, no less — the sun was bright, the breeze was soft, and a person begins to regret having packed up the sandals at summer’s end. It would have to be something pretty memorable, and that’s exactly what we and 200 others experienced in the ballroom of Congress Hall. Here was Cape May’s first TEDx event – TED being the non-profit that organizes conferences all over the world in which inspirational elites in their respective fields (Bill Gates, Jamie Oliver, David Blaine, etc, etc) share, in 18 minutes each, ideas worth spreading — the “x” signifies an independently organized TED forum.
We published a lot of editorial leading up to Sunday — articles on organizer Norris Clark as well as the 12 speakers, all of them with some kind of connection to Cape Island, that Norris and his advisory board selected — so we thought we knew what to expect. We thought we had a handle on the day’s theme as well, that being the interplay between the ideas of recreation and re-creation. But we couldn’t have anticipated how moving the event would be.
TED — which stands for technology, education and design, because these were the original areas of focus when the organization launched in 1984, though it’s really captured worldwide attention in the last few years — has grown to encompass all subjects. Browsing the 900TED talks available at TED.com, you’ll see topics that range from education reform to retrieving energy from floating energy pods. So at Sunday’s TEDx event, the scope was unsurprisingly broad.
The first lecturer, who took his place at the podium next to an authentic lifeguard chair and TEDx sand sculpture, was Danny Cohen of Fishermen’s Energy, and we listened as he described his goal to organize the fishing industry from Maine to South Carolina in order to develop off-shore energy resources. It was a talk so powerful, we caught local business owner Viviane Rowan, who was sitting next to us, tearing up as he spoke. “We have a choice,” he said, “we can either be victims of change, or agents of it.”
We’re happy to report that everyone understood the speech of our own Jack Wright, who talked about the launch of Exit Zero, despite his Scottish brogue. “What, no subtitles?” Viviane’s son, Jordan Rowan, had asked before the speech began. “And now you’ve ruined my first joke,” Jack responded.
Later in the day, we listened as 22-year-old Lauren Mulholland relayed her battle with cancer that had her in and out of chemotherapy between the ages of seven and 15. It took all the way until the fourth sentence before our row was blinking back the tears.
Then there was Jack Morey of Morey’s Piers, who told us the story of seaside parks (who knew the first roller coaster traveled at a blinding speed of six miles per hour?), of Wildwood (“We’re tacky and proud of it,” he said, “If you don’t like it… go to Cape May”), and just a bit about himself (“I hope to grow up to be young,” he said.) We were especially thrilled to see that Jack had such an impact on the audience (we overheard one senior gentleman saying it made him want to visit Morey’s Piers) because we know how nervous he was. “I might wear a bikini on stage to distract people from my speech,” we heard him say to his server during lunch at the Red Store in Cape May Point the day before.
Hanna Miller, daughter of Steve and Janet of 410 Bank Street/Frescos and a student of Harvard, lectured on our sometimes strange, sometimes wondrous, ever-mutating relationship with food. “More people watch shows like Top Chef,” she said, “than ever actually cook themselves.” Tom Carroll of Cape May bed and breakfast fame, shared an incredible 58 slides on the preservation of history; and Michael Bierut, a designer whose clients have included The New York Times and Harley-Davidson, shed new light on the welcoming power of a well-designed sign.
We were especially excited to see so many 20 and 30-somethings in the audience, people like Julie Menz who launched the Cape May Organic Market this year, and Eliza Lotozo, who’s working under Michael Kline (also in attendance) to produce the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival… people we could see giving their own TED talks someday, because they’ve already had so many ideas worth sharing. To get the word out to Cape May’s younger community and encourage attendance among this group, speaker Curtis Bashaw of Cape Resorts Group established a “scholarship” program, which included free entry for 15 hotel employees and ten young entrepreneurs We got a hold of one of the recipients, Brian Lee, who works at Bliss and Ella’s Good to Go, who told us what a great day it was. “Young people seek out guidance from people who’ve made it,” he told us.
Patrick Logue, Director of Operations of Cape Resorts Group, told us that the scholarships were in line with one of CRG’s missions: to encourage young people to establish roots here, so that Cape May’s offerings are enriched, and this place is able to sustain as a “living, breathing town,” versus “merely a Victorian set by the sea,” or, as Patrick also put it, a type of “Mr Rogers neighborhood.”
When we asked Norris Clark why younger generations would be inspired to attend such an event, he explained that it’s the intersection of “two really cool things” — Cape May and TEDx — and that this intersection will be back next year. “We’re inviting new people to the advisory committee to help us find and identify other talented speakers for the future,” he told us, and he’s already put a call into City Hall about possibly booking Convention Hall as the venue, while keeping the lunch hour at Congress Hall. (Our chicken salad tasted all the better, we think, because we got to enjoy it on an Adirondack chair on the lawn of this hotel.)
“In short, this was a community gift,” Norris told us. “TEDx provided a stage for these talented and inspirational and funny people to share their gifts with the wider stage.” We were pretty excited to be a part of that wider stage, and we think you will be, too. Look out for next year’s event. Trust us…
A Scary Good Weekend
DON’T you just love this time of year? Sunny days, cool evenings. And… Halloween! The actual night falls on a Wednesday, which means that this weekend is when the fun happens. the biggest night is, as always, the Phantom Ball at Congress Hall, which is Friday. The theme this year is twisted fairy tales so do with that what you will. Also on Friday is the Halloween Fright Fest at Sea Salt, in the Ocean Club Hotel on Beach Avenue. On Saturday, there are parties at the Ugly Mug, featuring 5 Hour Jones; at Cabanas; at the C-View Inn; and at Marq’s Pub in the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel, where the annual GABLES party (always a fun night) will be happening.