If you're into Gulfport politics, keep reading. If not, don't bother. I’ll be back next week to write about something more universally appealing.
With election season upon us, my editor reminds me once again I am not to endorse any of the candidates. And I’m not, I swear. But I do want to talk about one of our new councilmembers, because I’m hearing some suggestions about the race’s lone candidate, Christine Brown, and, well, I’m not sure they’re, well, you know... true.
Several people have asked me what I thought of the “fix” between outgoing Councilwoman Barbara Banno and incoming Councilwoman Christine Brown. Others have suggested some pretty dark and ugly things about Christine Brown and how she “convinced” (emphasis theirs) Councilwoman Banno not to run.
Now, my relationship with Ms. Brown hasn’t been exactly sunshine and daffodils, and she’s never, ever hesitated to criticize me or the paper when she thinks we haven’t lived up to what the community needs. However, she says it with respect and she says it to us directly, which I believe speaks to a person’s character. Anyone can criticize from the anonymity of the Internet, but that isn’t her style. I respect that.
That same directness also makes it hard for me to believe allegations that she somehow bullied Councilwoman Banno into not running. Enough is enough, guys. Please stop acting like the seventh trumpet just sounded and the end of the world is nigh: Christine Brown is not a harbinger of the apocalypse. Since she’s already a shoo-in for Ward Two, I can say this without fear of swaying your vote: give her a break. She’s a good person. She truly loves Gulfport and has a long history of giving of herself to the city. Enough with the conspiracy theories.
Do I know she didn’t scare Ms. Banno out of running? No, and I don’t know that she and Ms. Banno didn’t make some sort of backroom deal so Christine wouldn’t have to run an election. I do know this, though:
In almost a decade of my professional dealings with Christine, I believe she would do many things to earn her seat on council. Those things are not among them. While I never cared for the disturbingly ugly campaigns between Ms. Brown and former Councilwoman Michele King, I can tell anyone who cares to listen that Ms. Brown has never backed away from a fight.
I mean no disrespect to Councilwoman Banno, but to suggest that a woman with Ms. Brown’s track record of service would need to threaten anyone is patently absurd. She would have given Ms. Banno a true run for her money, and it would have been an exciting election.
Look, I fully expect to disagree with her on many issues, but I believe, if nothing else, Ms. Brown’s passion for Gulfport predates any of the special interest groups who claim to want the best for the city – and that includes ones I think have merit and ones I don’t. I think that passion will take her places you don’t expect her to go. I think she’s going to surprise and, on occasion, cause great consternation for some people, perhaps even her most loyal supporters and some folks in her family. This is one of the times I’m thrilled to have a front row seat for small-town politics.
Here’s something else I think those of you who have expressed fear will find delightful: this lady isn’t campaigning for the seat. It’s hers, and now that she’s out of campaign mode, she’s not mincing words. Read our interview with her in this week’s Gabber: she’s pretty clear she has no desire to talk about, as she puts it, “sheds and chickens.” These next two years are going to be a fun ride if she keeps saying what most of us are thinking.
She shared with me some ideas, and I promised her I’d hold off on talking about them until she has a chance to gather more information. I can say this: I think she’s exactly what the city needs in the Ward Two seat right now. Some people see her only through the frame of her brother-in-law, a former councilman and one of two candidates for mayor this March. Other folks define her by some of her supporters. That would be a grievous mistake. I suspect she may challenge some of Gulfport’s mores and question our scared cows.
So, Gulfport, stay tuned. Councilwoman Brown’s been waiting a long time for that seat on the dais, and I can assure you, she’s not going to waste a minute.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.