All hail Mayor Laurel!
Some people may be wringing their hands over Laurel Prussing's relatively narrow win in Tuesday's Urbana mayoral election. But I am not among them.
I've known her for years and almost always found her to be energetic, intelligent, candid and good humored. She could turn out to be a fine mayor for Urbana, and she will be if she sticks to the duties of the mayor's office.
But that, of course, is the issue, isn't it.
Will Prussing and members of the council address serious municipal issues? Or will they be consumed with making the entire city a nuclear free zone and revising U.S. foreign policy?
Being a Green/Democrat, Prussing is one of those on the far left whom President Bush can thank for his narrow victory in the 2000 presidential race. How she got local local Democrats to overlook that traitorous act is the real story of the 2005 mayoral race. But it probably wasn't as hard as it might have looked to outsiders because the mayoral race didn't really have much to do with politics or policy.
It was personal. Key Prussing supporters swore a blood oath to oust Mayor Tod Satterthwaite from office. If they could, they'd have scratched his eyes out, too. They may be planning an assault even now.
The women's club on the Urbana City Council (Danielle, Laura, Ruth and Esther) made no secret of the fact that they HATED him. He didn't care much for them either. Because of the bad blood, council meetings sometimes resembled a really ugly marriage counseling session, the kind where the counselor urges the warring spouses to get a divorce as soon as possible.
I wasn't surprised they got him. In a low-turnout race, never underestimate the ability of zealots to fire up members of their base and get them to the polls. Prussing was the beneficiary of the zealots' animus-driven energy.
The only really unfortunate aspect of the election is that not all seven incumbents on the city council are leaving with Tod. Six of the seven are going. Danielle will stay. That's too bad [-] in the extreme.
But back to Laurel. She demonstrated to those foolish people who may have doubted her that she's a resourceful, resilient, tough, still-ambitious pol. It's hard to believe that she had lost five elections in a row because there was a time when she was a Golden Girl of local politics. Former county board member, former county auditor, a former state legislator, she bloodied Republicans and Democrats alike for years with her intelligent, aggressive approach. Then, the worm turned, and she started to wear thin with everybody, Democrats included.
So give her credit. The women's club burned Tod at the stake, and, like a Phoenix, Prussing rose from his ashes.