A truly frightful Halloween tale
Forget goblins and ghosts, here’s a real Halloween scare:
“Inverness Councilman Labriola Guy.”
Yet, it can happen very easily and the possibility is not as crazy as once thought.
Wow. Labriola Guy (and his alter ego, Library Guy) has really tuned into the community, going door to door in his campaign for Inverness City Council by extolling the virtues of our fine little town while offering solutions to our many challenges.
Ha! Of course not. He’s going door-to-door, all right, but I’m guessing the conversations go something like this:
Labriola Guy: “Hi! I’m a polite young man who you will believe no matter what nonsense I provide.”
Unsuspecting Voter: “Like what?”
Labriola Guy: “Well, do you realize that because of the liberal elitists on the City Council, the sky above Inverness is now lime green?”
Voter: “The sky is lime green? Looks blue to me.”
Labriola Guy: “See, that’s what the liberal elites WANT you to think. It’s actually lime green, but with your vote I and my Christian conservative values promise to return it blue where it belongs.”
Voter: “Brilliant! I’m with you all the way.”
And that’s how Labriola Guy becomes an Inverness councilman.
How, you may wonder, could someone with such little grasp of reality win over voters? Let’s break it down:
— No clear frontrunner for Inverness Council Seat 1. Dave Ryan is the incumbent but he’s never faced voters, having been appointed and elected twice without opposition. So it’s hard to gauge his support. Crystal Lizanich has some good ideas, but it’s difficult to see if they’re resonating in a town that doesn’t get too excited about its city government.
That leaves three fairly evenly matched candidates, which means someone could win with under 40% -- way under if it's really tight. Purely from a math standpoint, it's anyone's race to win.
(Or one of these three could run away with it. Such is politics.)
— Labriola Guy's not even trying to be a real candidate. “Let’s take back our community from the liberal elites!” his mail piece reads. What liberal elites? I know the city council members and liberal they ain’t.
In fact, his entire campaign has nothing to do with Inverness. He could take the same message and be a candidate for, example, the Escambia County Soil and Water Conservation District. Except he has no ties to Escambia County. (Oh yeah, he has no ties here either.)
By not even portraying himself as legitimate, Labriola Guy can cynically pick up voters with his hate-filled rhetoric about things that don’t actually exist.
— Elections are not about choosing the most qualified for the job, or even the ones best suited for it. I can’t tell you how many candidates who were most qualified for an elected position but lost because they didn’t have that certain something voters look for.
That said, I'd think at the City Council level of government we're going to want people who are invested in the community and not just using it to satisfy some personal agenda. If you want qualified City Council candidates who have a true vested interest in improving the community, Ryan and Lizanich are the obvious choices.
The ballot layout doesn't help. City Council races are squeezed onto the back page below district court of appeal judges and just above the amendments. Low-ballot local races are like these are sometimes lost in the shuffle for voters; this being a relatively small ballot, that might not be an issue.
— Finally, Labriola Guy’s approach is to treat voters like bumbling idiots. He plays that polite young man role so well, most would never see the bigotry lurking underneath. A lot of people won't know what he's talking about until he's in their living room spilling the beans on an issue that exists in his mind.
I credit the Chronicle for writing about his nefarious dealings; he uses it to make himself a martyr in the voter’s eyes.
All these scenarios take the assumption, solely for blog's sake, that Inverness voters aren't paying attention to the city elections and could be easily drawn in by this, um, message. I actually don't think that's the case; Seat 1 is competitive, as is the mayor's race with incumbent Bob Plaisted and Max Schulman.
Four candidates in those two races are locked into providing leadership to help my city grow today and into the future. I'm confident of that.
I’ll end with this: The voters are never wrong, and they won’t be wrong here. Whoever they elect on Nov. 8, that’s who we have.
To Inverness supporters who want Labriola Guy on the Inverness City Council, though, I have just one question: Why?
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.