Gone Mild Election Results – Day 81 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

I asked, and got 110 responses, to my completely nonscientific poll on which Jackson County legislator is least likely to be retained in 2010. Here are the results:

Henry Rizzo 27.3% 30

Scott Burnett 16.4% 18

James Tindall 15.5% 17

Dan Tarwater 14.5% 16

Theresa Garza Ruiz 11.8% 13

Dennis Waits 10.9% 12

Fred Arbanas 1.8% 2

Greg Grounds 0.9% 1

Bob Spence 0.9% 1

Interesting results, and not entirely what I expected. I should note that 12 of the 13 votes for Garza Ruiz came in during a 10 minute span – I suspect someone was stuffing the ballot box against her, but that was the only voting irregularity I noticed.

One of the flaws in my method was that it only called for a vote on who is most likely to not be retained. Henry Rizzo, with his aggressive stand against Ethical Home Rule and a district that includes the politically-active Ward Parkway corridor, was a fairly obvious choice, especially in the absence of a specific opponent.

I was a little surprised to see how high Scott Burnett ranked in the poll. As Chair of the Legislature, he will be in the hot seat if the voters do not see a return to Ethical Home Rule, so perhaps the readers have a good point. Personally, I think Mr. Burnett has done enough outreach and has enough donor friends to make him hard to beat, but time will tell how much this Ethics Blackout will damage his “good guy” image.

A low surprise was Fred Arbanas. Only two voters chose him as least likely to be retained, but I think there’s a decent shot that he will decide to step aside at the last minute and try to handpick a successor to a seat that he has held since the very first County Legislature met. That’s kind of like having James Madison still sitting in Congress today. Look for Mr. Arbanas to act as if he’s running until the day of filing, to discourage any competition, and then for him to walk in with a “team player” to take his place. I think Arbanas’ seat is one of the most likely to become a pro-ethics seat, but only if someone bright and aggressive takes on the seemingly daunting task of pushing a rock up the mountain of Fred Arbanas’ county-sponsored popularity. Trust me, that mountain may suddenly become a molehill when Fred Arbanas puts a backroom hack on the ballot in his place.

Perhaps future polls ought to ask how many of the County Legislators will not be returning, and we can also test different names against some of the more vulnerable legislators. It’s going to be an interesting year and a half for the Jackson County legislators – perhaps the last year and a half in public office for several of them.

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