There's still a lot of time between now and when the vote-by-mail ballots go out in October, but whatever vague excitement I had that I might have an actual choice to make between Karin Uhlich and Ben Buehler-Garcia in the Ward 3 race was dashed this weekend by his Tweetathon, held over six hours on a Saturday. Believe it or not, both professionally and personally, every election cycle I hope for actual races discussing the issues facing our city. In fact, I assumed I would have an actual decision to make, considering I haven't been terribly impressed by Uhlich's time on the council.
Ignoring for a moment the wild miscalculation the event seemed to be (no one wants to spend a Saturday watching a choppy Ustream video on a computer screen, even in the middle of the summer), the problem really seemed to be that Buehler-Garcia decided to present himself as the same old Republican candidate running for office in Tucson, in the tradition of those who seem to lead any conversation with their dislike for the city and everything about it.
All my personal interactions with him have been positive. In fact, when I met him for the first time and introduced myself as the editor of the Weekly, he didn't even visually seem repulsed (this happens more often than you might imagine). I had the feeling that he might be closer to a Bob Walkup (stop laughing) than Frank Antenori in his perspective, but somehow during the Twitterthon's live stream, he was surrounded by the usual suspects: Shelby Hawkins, Jon Justice and a stream of people claiming that Tucson is the city that can't shoot straight.
Beyond that even, it seemed that he was unwilling to actually discuss the issues, as people (admittedly some of whom are affliated with Uhlich's campaign) asked the candidate questions he didn't want to answer during a Q&A session on Twitter. Apparently, he answered some of those questions on the nearly unwatchable video stream, but if you're going to take questions on Twitter, you sort of have to answer them, especially if they're focused on issues the City Council actually has to face, like pension reform and the budget.
Maybe this was just a kayfabe (an opportunity to use a wrestling term! look it up!) to get some donations in before the actual election cycle heats up, but if Buehler-Garcia is aiming for the far right instead of the center, I'll just have to be hopeful the GOP gets a clue before 2015.
As we were going to press this week, news came that longtime local journalist Jeff Smith had passed away in his home in Patagonia. Smith, 67, was a hell-raisin' reporter and columnist for the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Weekly, Tucson Citizen and the Phoenix New Times over the course of four decades and will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. Look for more on his life and times on The Range and in next week's print edition.