Welcome to the first annual 2nd Street Awards!
With this year’s local elections just around the corner, I thought it would be timely to give you all a run down of the candidates and their performances on and off the campaign trail. Instead of a straight-forward critique, however, I hope you’ll find it more entertaining as an awards ceremony not unlike the Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies). Our candidates have definitely earned their claim to each and every one of the awards they’ll be taking home this evening, but first, an important disclaimer!
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant as comedy, based in truth but not infallible. It is NOT meant as an indictment of any candidate’s personal life. The material is only intended to address the political persona each candidate has presented thus far. You’ll note not every candidate won an award or was nominated. That’s because the awards ceremony theme is just that – a theme. The article underneath is intended to bring up some serious concerns regarding each candidate while having fun doing so. No candidate is perfect, but we’ll cross those bridges when we get to them.
And with no further ado!
- For failing to pursue his campaign promise to ‘clean up’ the streets by organizing kids into teams six years ago,
- For not making any worthwhile attempt to connect with his constituents until election month,
- For using the flooding as a pretense to issue informational videos that also promote his re-election,
- For borrowing the language of his political rivals to beat them,
The ‘Big Fat Phony Award‘ Goes To….Jay Burk!
The Big Fat Phony is the highest honor that can be achieved on the campaign trail. The recipient is the candidate who most immediately and successfully abandons principles for the sake of victory. Kudos!
Jay also took home Most Hammy Performances During Regular Session, was nominated 3 times for the Most Eye Rolls For Dwight Award, and twice for the Venezuelan Prosperity Award.
The Big Fat Phony Award
As far back as 2007, when Burk was first running, he campaigned on growing Lawton by attracting more businesses, increasing wages, taking care of our families, and convincing our young people to come back home to roost. Once victorious, his rhetoric shifted a little to cleaning up the streets and organizing kids into teams… When he ran for re-election in 2010, he kept up the same rhetoric. By 2013 our fine city ranked tenth in the nation against cities of comparable size in crime rates. That is, we had the tenth highest crime rate among cities our size.
Fast forward to 2016 and he’s a member of a council that has lost a lot of trust with the Lawton Police Department. Jay was the one who initiated the Safety Tax to help build a new city jail, police station, and fire station. Despite what should be a clear step in favor of the LPD, they showed up at a recent council meeting with strong concerns over how the money would be spent, and why officers were having to be placed on furlough. So unless anyone can cite where kids on the east side have stopped gang activity and joined teams, or where Burks actions have led to Lawton’s prosperity, then it appears his entire campaign platform remains unfulfilled 9 years later, making him a politician in the truest sense.
Until this month, Burk has not made any notable effort to connect with his constituency. He advertised no town hall type meetings with them, wrote no newsletter to keep them informed, explained no position he took on this or that issue as they arose. This month, election month, he has done more than in the last nine years to engage his Ward. Sadly, he co-opted the recent flooding as an excuse to put his face out there and play the helpful councilman, but not without plugging his re-election campaign. In fact, all of this activity is through his campaign page, and every video I’ve seen makes mention of the page towards the end. It’s clear re-election has invigorated his interest in public input.
Lastly, at the recent candidate forum one of his political rivals, Barbara Curry, spoke repeatedly about organizing neighborhood watches. Community was her answer to much of what ails our city, and after the forum Burk adopted this language on his Re-elect Jay Burk Facebook page feed. I guess he liked it, and wanted credit.
Venezuelan Prosperity Award Nominee
At a campaign event Burk held at Eastside Park he answered a couple of constituent questions via video. One was “what is the number one factor that will attract manufacturing businesses to Lawton?” His brief answer was ‘quality of life.’ He seemed to suggest it was governments role to improve quality of life. He cited crime rates and having activities for residents as examples of quality of life issues. After years on the council and owning a business, Burk’s grasp of the economy and government’s role in it has not grown one iota. His participation in our council’s budgetary policies which include raising the water bill, asking for temporary sales tax increases, and a distinct lack of innovative thought, mark him for securing this prestigious award at a future time!
- For getting re-elected to represent a different ward after rezoning put him from Ward 4 to Ward 2,
- For holding one of the most lengthy local political records in recent history,
- For doing an (seemingly) unremarkable job as a Lawton Councilman and running for state office anyway,
- For being jaded about the voting populace but pushing on anyway,
Our ‘American Standard Award‘ Goes To…..Keith Jackson!
This Award represents evidence of relentless ambition for its own sake, because certainly any other reason would have produced observable results…way to go, Keith!
Jackson also raked in the Family For Sale, Eye Rolls for Dwight, and What’s a Platform? Awards!
The American Standard Award
In the United States today we have accepted an entire array of ‘business as usual’ methods for how and where governments should operate. These methods have led to all sorts of negative consequences, but governments are not easy ships to steer – especially ours – so here we are going headlong into a Roman-style fall. Despite playing chicken with the nature of empire, most of our politicians have avoided trying to change anything. They enjoy the perks of power, doing favors for their friends with our money, and a few just won’t re-examine their belief that government is the solution to problems government itself creates. Whatever the reason, this is the American Standard in politics – uncreative, in-the-box thinking that would never consider re-empowering the people to solve their own problems through the market forces.
We’ve accepted as well a dramatic dumbing down of our discourse over the issues we face, permitting the news media to neglect their responsibility to the public and allowing politicians to gain office with only vague references to their intentions. They don’t offer specific, creative solutions, and we don’t expect them to. Many of us dismiss such solutions when they are presented. This is also a part of the American Standard.
With 16 years of experience on our city council, if Keith was a creative problem solver, we’d have found out about it. If Keith thought it was important to persuade constituents by informing them, we’d have noticed that as well. Without a remarkable political legacy, he’s running for a higher office, and he’s doing it without a platform. He’s running on education, and the only specific I could find was that we need more teachers. We’re 46th in the nation for education, he’s running on education, and his website has no platform information. One night of internet research could give you plenty of thoughts on the subject, but Jackson has opted to give the bare minimum, and that makes him a great recipient for this Award!
- For having virtually no campaign presence,
- For self-destructing at a public forum,
The ‘Heinz Doofenshmirtz Award‘ Goes To….Derek Berry!
The Doofenshmirtz goes to whichever candidate seems most intent on losing his/her campaign.
Berry also enjoyed 4 nominations for both the 1 Cor 14:27 and Who Is, Alex Trebech? Awards.
The Heinz Doofenshmirtz
I first and last saw Derek at the candidate forum last month. He stood out as the least articulate candidate, often parroting the answers of other candidates. At one point the panel was asked, “If you had to cut employees or services, which would you cut?” He was called on to answer first, and he passed on the question. It was an important question, and the answers following his revealed that it was also a very answerable one. If we can’t expect answers to the question of tough decisions, how can we expect the actual tough decision making?
Additionally Berry has no social media presence, which is unusual and detrimental to a campaign on any level of government. The only web presence I could find was a GoFundMe page where he actually does discuss his intentions, though of course without prescribing any specific solutions, which makes Derek the best candidate for the Doofenshmirtz Award. Congratulations and better luck next time sir!
- For having the most unusual campaign strategy,
- For using a dog, by itself, to promote his campaign,
- For lacking the discretion to disguise his self-promotion,
- But lacking the sociability to make up for it with outreach,
The ‘Lost in Space Award‘ Goes To…Michael Dixon!
Lost in Space is an award given to the candidate that demonstrates the greatest disconnect from normalcy, whether that be because of a strong relationship with the past, extended periods of isolation, or any other explanation!
Dixon also received 2 nominations for The Castaway Award and a single nomination for the What About Bob? and Grumpy Old Men Awards.
Lost in Space Award
Michael did fairly well at the candidate forum, but that’s kind of where the connection ends. He used his dog, his car, any instance of charity, and his attendance at the city council meetings to boldly advertise his campaign. He doesn’t mince words or waste time, though he is prone to going on tangents about his cars. He is the only candidate I’ve ever seen to use a picture of his dog and endorse himself through his animal in descriptive text.
His web presence is minimal compared to most of the other candidates, existing solely in his Facebook campaign page. As far as I could tell, he didn’t have a personal Facebook page, eliminating one of the most common ways for people to look into other people in today’s information age. All in all he had very little outside support, very little web presence (though his post frequency was good), and generally campaigned like it was 1999, which together with the rest makes him the best choice for the Lost in Space Award.
Well that’s it folks, I hope it was a little funny and a little informative! I welcome any corrections to any information that is demonstrably incorrect, but bear it mind it’s comedy (or a close approximation?), and as such is more commentary than documentary. I’ll see you guys again before the 28th.