Today the El Paso Times published a revealing report on the two District 1 candidates. Brian Kennedy and Analisa Silverstein were invited to respond to a questionnaire and their answers were published in full.
The difference in experience between Kennedy and Silverstein is astonishing. Silverstein cites her high school and college activities, her Chief of Staff position for various politicians, her Project Manager role for a PR/web design firm called Hello Amigo, and her service on nonprofit boards where she got to “manage millions of dollars.” By contrast, Kennedy has an impressive range of military, media, executive and legal experience spanning more than four decades and he actually managed multi-million-dollar budgets and oversaw payroll for hundreds of employees.
Kennedy outlines three top priorities: property taxes, debt management, and rebalancing the scope and responsibilities of the City Manager position. He makes a strong case for financial and administrative reform and clearly sympathizes with the suffering of overtaxed property owners. When asked why he is running for office, he replies:
“I am running because I feel the same way as a lot of other El Pasoans. We’re spending money like there’s no tomorrow. We’ve abdicated any oversight responsibilities. We are regularly given false information or no information. And the supporting facts saying that we are heading the wrong direction are piling up fast. Stagnant growth, $1 billion dollars of debt (that is actually more like $2.1 billion with interest over the life of the loan), rising taxes, and poor service or less service delivered for the dollar. While debt, property taxes and negative growth are serious enough, we have disfunction on a council that likes to hear themselves talk and appears to operate with disregard for the El Pasoans they represent. Honestly, I just can’t stand by and watch what’s going on anymore.”
When asked why she is running for office, Silverstein does not answer the question but instead talks about encouraging people to become more involved in their community and tells us that she loves El Paso. She does not tell us why she is running for office.
In her discussion of taxes, she does not indicate they are too high. Instead, she wants to diversify the tax base by luring large businesses to El Paso, presumably with more taxpayer-supported incentives (corporate welfare). Her remaining priorities are safe neighborhoods and nice parks.
Silverstein states “I would continue to support this project. I, along with 72% of the voters voted for this project in the 2012 Bond.” So she supports eminent domain for entertainment purposes, displacing vulnerable El Pasoans from their barrios, demolishing cultural resources that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and going hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.
Kennedy embraces a logical solution: “It’s been 10 years since the taxpayers voted for a Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center at a set price. We have a responsibility to provide that. Both of those promises can be kept by moving the project to expand and improve the Abraham Chavez and Convention Center. Of the $180 million approved (which was never enough) there’s about $150 million left. That provides the facility promised at the price promised to the taxpayers. I would vote for that project. There are discussions beginning with variations involving public private partnerships. Whatever we do, if taxpayer’s money is used, a representative portion of those profits should go back to the City. We should make a better deal on behalf of the taxpayers than we made on the ball park.”
Kennedy is running a perfectly clean campaign, focusing on policy objectives and improving the lives of El Paso taxpayers. He won 41.28% of the vote in the first round, and all five candidates who lost or dropped out gave him a strong endorsement.
Silverstein, who won only 25.29% of the vote and did not earn any endorsements from the former candidates, ran a clean campaign until election night, when in a desperate bid to discredit Kennedy she accused him of committing a felony without presenting any evidence whatsoever. Three days later she accused him of financial mismanagement because of her inability to understand the results of a County audit. Meanwhile, alone among all the candidates for local office, she is unable to print campaign signs with the required legal notice required under Texas law.
I have never seen a City district runoff with such an enormous gap between the two candidates in terms of experience, qualifications, and policy priorities.
Voting for Kennedy is the biggest no-brainer in the history of planet earth.