My guess is Wilder woke up one morning, looked out his window and saw a circus passing. It was a line of Richmond's mayoral hopefuls that went on, and on. His first thought was – that circus needs a ringmaster! In other words, the Doug Wilder that Richmonders of all ages and persuasions have learned to have strong feelings about – one way or another – still can't resist jumping into the fray.
So he invited all of the declared and supposed mayoral candidates to subject themselves to questions and of course -- a bunch of free exposure. Why wouldn't the media turn out to cover the circus?
Wilder didn't hesitate to assert his point of view on several matters, although he sometimes cloaked it in the form of questions. Bob Holsworth acted as Wilder's sidekick. All in all, Wilder was roughest on the three candidates who are currently serving on City Council -- Jon Baliles, Chris Hilbert and Michelle Mosby.
The crowd on hand was lively. There were several times when they laughed or hooted. The two biggest crowd reactions came from remarks by Joe Morrissey and Chad Ingold. They both got laughs for timely quips. Alan Schintzius also provoked a few good chuckles. Most of the others played it pretty straight. Maybe some of them would have been better off loosening up a bit, but it was the first forum. We'll see how they evolve.
To sum up I'm going to assign a grade to all 12 of the folks who answered the call to appear on Wilder's stage as candidates, or in Hilbert's case – a guy still thinking about it.
The grades assigned are meant to characterize how well they represented themselves. Which means the quality of the content of what they said, and how clearly they made their points. That, and their quickness on their feet, their poise, and so forth. For this post I'm not going to get into who might be the most qualified candidates. Nor am I going to speculate about who stands a better, or worse, chance of winning.
No one scored an “A.” None of those who endured the inquisition knocked the ball out of the park. As well, no one deserved an “F” for embarrassing themselves. They are listed in what I hope is alphabetical order:
- Four earned a “B.” They are: Jon Baliles, Jack Berry, Chad Ingold and Joe Morrissey.
- Four earned a “C.” They are: Lillie Estes, Michelle Mosby, Alan Schintzius and Rick Tatnall.
- Four earned a “D.” They are: Brad Froman, Chris Hilbert, Bruce Tyler and Lawrence Williams.
-- Art and words by F.T. Rea