Ludeman was elected president with the support of the Republicans and a couple of B-Team Democrats, as well as the support of Democrat Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. The A-Team/B-Team split in the Democrat Party has deep roots and is the source of much embarrassment to the local and state parties. The fact that the two teams couldn't come together to elect a president of council when they hold the majority became a major sticking point and a further indication of the extent of their differences.
"The 7-4 vote came after almost two weeks of public jockeying for the job among Democrats who were embarrassed that Democrats held an 8-4 majority, but that a Republican ran the agenda and appointed the committee chairmen."
Yes, embarrassment was the reason for the change - not that Rob was doing a poor job in the role. But the political need for a Dem president far outweighed the actual skills and performance of the person in the position.
"He (Ashford) said it made sense for council's majority party to be a "working majority," and that he would work with Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
"My job is to work with the mayor to make the mayor successful on all his initiatives. At the same time, my job is to serve as a voice for the citizens," he said."
The Dems already had a working majority - they just couldn't get themselves to work toward the same goal...and the stickler was the A-Teamers (Ashford included) who routinely opposed the B-Teamer mayor. Some might say that this was because there were no Republicans to oppose - but that's another story for another day.
And now, those who've positioned themselves against the mayor now say that their job is to 'make the mayor successful on all his initiatives'???? They could have done this without the presidency of council, as Ludeman was actually doing a better job in this role than Ashford and his A-Team colleagues. But now all is rosy...
""To replace him for no reason whatsoever, with but four months left in his term, underscores the pettiness, bitter partisanship, and ongoing political gamesmanship of this council," the mayor said."
Yes, the mayor gets it right...this was more about partisanship and political power than it was about any policy or public need.
"The change in leadership will give the A-team Democrats more power to make a difference in city policy, said Mr. (Frank) Szollosi, who led the effort to overturn the GOP leadership.
"We wanted to move into a period of greater cooperation and respect," Mr. Szollosi said."
Now, how 'having the presidency' will move them toward greater cooperation and respect is beyond me - especially considering than the leading spokesman against that mayor has been Szollosi, sometimes rightly so.
Szollosi opposed certain taxes and spending, gaining much support from both Republican and Democrat voters. But he never missed an opportunity to slam the mayor and others opposed to his own positions. If there was a true interest in moving toward greater cooperation and respect, it certainly didn't take a change in the council president to do so. This 'excuse' is a smokescreen for the real reason - that it embarrassed the Dems locally and state-wide for them to have a majority on council with a Republican as president.
Considering the past disagreements between the A/B teams, I'm sure some of the seven who voted for Ashford had to be persuaded. Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle (who reported the story before the local media outlets - congrats!) wrote that State Party Chairman Chris Redfern met with the Dems yesterday morning before their council meeting. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in that room!
But that raises all kinds of questions - like why a state party chairman is meddling in our local city council presidency in the first place. Especially when it's extremely obvious that this vote to elect Ashford was more about Democrat Party unity (or the appearance of such) than it was about what is good for the city...and even more so when you remember that city council is a non-partisan office and race!
But, image is more important than substance these days. And the story behind the story is that now the Dems can brag that they've 'defeated' the Republicans and are 'standing together.' However, as I've said in the past, those A-Team/B-Team wounds are very deep and not likely to be healed by a thinly-veiled show of unity.
The sad part is that even Ashford, in his morning interview on WSPD, couldn't give a valid reason for why this change needed to take place. He tried to make the point that it was about 'policy' but his meager response to the question only demonstrated that the real reason is politics - he just couldn't say it honestly without looking even more foolish than he - and his cohorts - already look.
And that's the story behind the story...