Reform and Libertarian Candidates Prepare Mayoral Campaigns.
By Jim Nintzel
PEROT HAS ALL that money. The Body has celebrity. And Mike Fleishman has, well, idealism.
The 26-year-old Fleishman has decided to run for mayor--on the Reform Party ticket.
Not that Fleishman is a big fan of Ross Perot, whom he calls a "fascist." But following former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura's surprise win in the Minnesota governor's race, Fleishman surfed over to the Reform Party's web page, where he was fascinated by "three buzzwords: Restoring integrity, accountability, and fiscal responsibility to government. They're simple things to say, but in all reality they're missing."
Fleishman, a self-described "day trader" who makes his living trading stock options on the Internet, sees himself as the candidate to bring those concepts back to local government. While he's still working out the details of his platform (he's identifed many of Tucson's problems, but he's short on solutions), he's busy laying the groundwork for his campaign. To get official ballot status for the Reform Party, which isn't currently recognized by the City Clerk's Office, he and his supporters will have to gather somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 signatures from 61 different precincts by May 18. If he's successful, he'll only need to gather 54 signatures to put himself on the ballot. If he fails, however, he'll have until June 24 to gather the 1,274 signatures needed to become a candidate on the general election ballot.
Fleishman began playing in Tucson politics two years ago, when he helped with longtime friend Demetri Downing's bid for the Ward 3 Council seat. Downing, then 25 years old, drew only 16 percent of the vote in the 1997 Democratic primary, which was won by Jerry Anderson, who was unopposed in the November general.
"He's a bright young man," says Anderson, who was impressed enough by Fleishman to appoint him to the citizens' committee overseeing the proposed new City Hall. "I think he asked a lot of good questions."
Fleishman's work on that committee inspired, in part, the mayoral campaign. "I realized I can do this on a larger scale," says Fleishman, who hopes to bring a more "holistic" vision to the race. "There needs to be another voice out there."
"It's not just about votes," he adds. "I'm trying to find a way to involve more citizens. I don't know if the Reform Party is the way to do it."
The Reform Party certainly hasn't yet captured the support of Tucson's voters. According to Suzanne Mesich of the City Clerk's Office, only 70 voters are actively registered with the Reform Party.
Third-party candidates have campaigned in the last two mayoral contests, but they haven't had much of an impact. Libertarian Gay Lynn Goetzke won 11 percent of the vote in 1991; four years later, attorney Ed Kahn, also running on the Libertarian ticket, got 9 percent.
Kahn is planning another mayoral bid this year as well. "I enjoyed the last race--it was fun. I still have the desire to spread the Libertarian message and maybe, just maybe, win the race and bring some common sense and the Libertarian philosopy to Tucson. The message is minimum government and maximum personal responsibility."
There are 4,316 registered Libertarians on the active voter rolls in the City of Tucson, many of whom registered during Kahn's 1995 run, during which he used more than $32,000 in campaign dollars for a drive that registered more than 8,000 new Libertarians.
"I'm running for mayor for the same reason, I guess, you publish the Tucson Weekly," Kahn explains. "You're the only reasonable alternative to the socialists at the Star and the Chamber of Potted Commerce at the Citizen. I guess the Libertarian candidacy is the same thing: We're the only realistic alternative and we're the only ones who are going to say what needs to be said."
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