I attended the Ward 9 Debate on Monday night between Sonia Chang-Diaz and Dianne Wilkerson for our local State Senate seat. Neither candidate was particularly impressive from an objective point of view. A curt analysis would be Sonia saying "we need to do better" without specifying either what Dianne had not done well or what exactly she would do, and Dianne using the "these are the problems facing us" routine where she talks about everything that is wrong, while heads nod in agreement but she offers no solutions other than saying she will work hard.
Neither dog and pony show is particularly impressive to me. If Sonia wants to unseat an incumbent I think she should point out directly, not with innuendo, where her opponent has let the voters down. The obvious question for Dianne is if you know what the problems are, why haven't you fixed them in 15 years in the Senate and if someone is to blame, who is it?
Dianne is a master, like many politicians of taking both sides of an issue, and of saying one thing, meaning another, and denying something she just said. Some of her comments that left my head scratching are as follows:
"the Public Schools System doesn't work for the majority of its citizens", yet she is proud to be endorsed by Tom Menino who is responsible for those schools. If he isn't to blame, and she isn't to blame then who is responsible for those schools?
She said that 2/3 or our teachers are retiring in the next 3-5 years and we need to get new teachers and teachers certified in their subject areas. She then went into a tangent I couldn't understand about how parents can't teach their kids algebra. With her ongoing problems with the campaign finance people, I was thinking I certainly wouldn't want her teaching anyone algebara.
She repeatedly said she was the best person in the Senate to get to "20 plus 1" (a majority needed to pass) and said she was unhappy with the Governor about his campaign promises on CORI reform. So, the question is why hasn't she introduced the proper CORI reform and gotten it to pass if she is the most knowledgeable and most able to get it done. She is proud to be endorsed by Deval as well.
She said that the legislature was going to be called back into session to cut spending, and that she had "a hope and a prayer" that they won't cut education. I applaud her being very vehement on this point.
She also talked about economic development where she said "she won't miss any opportunity" to add jobs in her district. She didn't offer specifics but seemed to definitely be in the mode of "everyone is going to get some pork, and the system isn't fair, but I will work to get us some pork too" and that some pork for "women and people of color" is better than the no pork of the past, even though it currently isn't what it is supposed to be.
All in all, it was a night filled with a lot of words and not much substance and a soupcon of debate.
Who will save us, when we need fiscal responsibility, more transparency and renewed commitment to education.