Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Conor Yunits for State Representative

It's not just the Clintons. In too many places we have people running for office on the strength of family connections. Too much of the Democratic new wave in the West is due to old last names, and it does grate on me. Even my man Mark Begich is the son of an Alaskan politician. The Udall and Salazar families account for 5 Mountain West Democrats in Congress. Altogether unhealthy for democracy. I'm not familiar enough with Colorado and New Mexico state politics to know if these were really the best candidates out there, but this is too much power being concentrated again.

But what if the all-in-the-family candidate is actually the best one out there? When I first heard that Conor Yunits was running for state representative to replace the great Tom Kennedy, I was less than impressed. Yunits' prime qualification seemed to be that his dad Jack was a mayor of Brockton. Particularly given that Conor was facing two seasoned City Council members, Michael Brady and Robert Sullivan, I thought he was fooling himself to even seek nomination. Yunits has been to many Democratic State conventions, and has always been approachable, but I thought he was just in it thanks to the last name -- the worst reason to run for office.

Then I started paying attention to the race. And it didn't take me too long to start changing his mind. Yunits is actually engaged with Brockton. Brady and Sullivan are good guys...in the best and worst possible sense of the phrase. They probably know half the voters of the district by name. And that seems to be what they're counting on for victory.

Symptomatic is what these candidates offer on the "issues" page of their websites. Yunits offers a detailed raft of proposals. I disagree with some of it, such as his support for casinos, and agree with most of the rest. The casino thing isn't a deal-breaker for me, especially as Yunits is right on everything from equal marriage to opposing the death penalty to Cape Wind.

But what is appalling is the lack of detail or apparent interest Sullivan or Brady have in addressing the issues. Sullivan says that he is against the proposed Brockton power plant -- 100% against. And that's about it. Sure, he's "for" increasing local aid, enhance public safety, education, reducing property taxes, health care, and civil rights. Shocking, I know. But Sullivan offers zero details of how he hopes to improve the state of those issues in Brockton and the state stands on those topics.

And Sullivan is a cornucopia of information compared to Michael Brady, whose issues tab on his website doesn't work. He brags about his connections in the network, all the union endorsements he's received (reminiscent of Diane Wilkerson), but doesn't say what he plans to do if elected. Nevermind specifics...he doesn't even pander.

And this isn't a matter of two older politicians showing McCain-like ignorance of the Internet. A recent candidates' forum made clear this lack of detail was deliberate (you can watch it here, including a section on Democrats running for Plymouth County office). On questions ranging from a proposed (and large) arcade for Brockton , to Deval's Readiness Report on education, to civilian police details, neither Brady nor Sullivan could be bothered to give a substantive answer to the question. Yunits showed a detailed familiarity with the Readiness Report, is cautiously in favor of the new establishment, and agrees with civilian details. Brady hasn't even read the Readiness Report yet, and neither committed to a yes or no on civilian flagmen.

It's clear what is happening. Sullivan and Brady -- good guys both -- are hoping that local connections and endorsements will propel them through the Democratic primary, and don't want to risk alienating anybody by, you know, showing real political courage. Yunits, with less to lose, and more to gain, is taking voters seriously by taking stands on serious issues.

I'm mildly surprised to be backing Yunits in this primary, but Brockton needs somebody willing to take a stand for the city, and you're only going to get that from someone willing to take a stand for his beliefs. If a candidate takes his voters for granted before his election, how will he treat them afterward? Brady and Sullivan are loyal hard-working Democrats who get stuff done out of sight, but Brockton needs good representation in the public eye as well as in the back rooms. Conor Yunits respects the voters and is working to earn their trust, and for that I hope that Conor Yunits becomes the Democratic nominee on September 16th for Brockton's next state representative.

No comments: