By Joshua Resnek
The mayor didn’t meet his match at the debate held last Thursday at the Orthodox synagogue, Ahabat Shalom, on Ocean Street.
What transpired there between the candidates is what voters can expect during this year of our discontent – posturing by those who want to unseat Clancy, a reiteration of everything he’s done by Clancy.
It was the proverbial, “You’ve been there too long and only your friends have been hired” versus “I’ve built a new police station. There is a new Manning Bowl. I’ve rolled back the hours of bars and appointed women to key positions at City Hall never before held by women.”
More to the point, the debate showed what the candidates can expect from one another as the campaign wears on.
About 50 men and women attended the debate.
Councillor-at-Large Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who is running a sticker campaign to find a place on the ballot in the finale, David Rohnstock, and Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy agreed on nothing.
Rohnstock wants to run the city as a business.
If he manages to win, this would mean that the city work force will drop by 25 percent, remaining employees will pay for half their health insurance premiums, and no program, no matter how meaningful, will survive unless it is self-sustaining.
Flanagan Kennedy implied that she will put a stop to politics at City Hall – that everything she does will be on the up and up, and that none of her friends would receive jobs – and that posting jobs was far more important than filling jobs with qualified local residents.
Putting a stop to politics at City Hall is like taking buses out of the public transportation system.
With this said, she apparently received a warm round of applause following her suggestions.
Clancy made no such promises. Like Skeffington, one of the great characters in Edwin O’Connor’s classic political novel, “The Last Hurrah,” Clancy understands that the entire meaning of politics in a job like his is attached like an umbilical cord to quid pro quo.
Clancy has succeeded in raising Lynn’s image – although he may not have made himself clear on that subject at the debate.
By running this city in such a way that the tax rate has remained steady and city services remain abundant – with no child in the public schools paying to play sports – Clancy has kept the place stable.
In a down time such as we are experiencing, everything is about the ship of state cutting through the water at full power with no chance of sinking.
Clancy’s strength is his ability to keep his head on straight.
There is very little more that he can do that he hasn’t already done – and those running against him, for all their rhetorical flair of promising to do this and that, can’t beat him at his game.