RICHMOND POLITICS KICKOFF: Ah, the campaign season, that time of packed halls, canned answers and fulsome bromides.
It kicked off in earnest in Richmond on Tuesday night at the Easter Hill United Methodist Church, the august structure that once hosted Martin Luther King Jr. for a visit. The candidates forum, which drew more than 80 people, started with the three-man mayoral race, a field composed of Tom Butt, Nat Bates (more than 60 years of city government experience between them) and newcomer Uche Uwahemu. Each talked about the ways he would change the city if elected mayor.
Bates called the council he's served on since the 1960s a "mess," and roasted his colleagues' attire for good measure.
"They dress like slobs!" he said.
Butt said that if mayor, he "would not put up with a lot of what goes on in the chamber." Uwahemu, in arguably the line of the night, said the other two guys have "had their chance to lead for 60 years."
Butt and Bates both lauded their composure amid the Tuesday night maelstroms known as City Council meetings. In a burst of candor, Butt gamely admitted that he loses his temper "about once a year." Bates countered that he never loses his, and that he "keeps a sense of humor about this business."
Butt, 70, joked that he was glad Uwahemu was seated in the middle, best to keep him and the 82-year-old Bates from "coming to blows."
In November, after dozens more of these routines, the voters will help one candidate deliver the coup de grace and become the city's next mayor. Stay tuned.