This year's primary race for City Council president is hardly a cliffhanger. There is just one Republican candidate, Anthony Cobb, and Democratic incumbent Mary Pat Clarke faces only token opposition from Daki Napata.
Napata, a community activist, displays genuine concern for many of the problems facing city residents. But Napata, who was indecisive even about whether to run for this office, has not been able to put together a credible, focused campaign.
Our preference is Mary Pat Clarke, who has held the post since 1988. As head of the council, Clarke has led the fight for more equitable auto insurance rates for city residents. She has fought for more racially and gender-balanced leadership, and she distinguished herself this year in helping to marshal a controversial redistricting plan through a fearful council. Clarke's savvy and high energy level are well-known to constituents and, though initially trounced by the council, she has become a dominant force on the body, wielding power among the city's lawmakers.
Unfortunately, Clarke's behavior is unpredictable, and she often displays a brashness that can alienate. Clarke needs to guard against this in a new term not only to bridge racial and ethnic differences among council members with disparate agendas but also to act more effectively as a liaison between the council and the mayor. This will be critical in focusing legislative energy on key issues like housing and education which must be priorities in the next council term.