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October 5, 2010 > Editorial: Political Math

Editorial: Political Math

Most of us were taught the basics of math in elementary school and have relied heavily on the truth of it ever since. Our daily lives depend on these basics and, except for the world of theoretical physics and similar exotic sciences, one plus one always equals two. In the coming General Election, Fremont has introduced a new paradigm into the mix. In this election, one plus one can equal five.

While on the surface, two council seats - Anu Natarajan and Bill Harrison - are in play, there is actually a third seat that hangs in the balance as well. Bob Wieckowski, with union and Democratic Party money, has maneuvered into a sure bet for state office. However, his seat on the council will not be vacant until after November election results are final and he is sworn in as another efficient and trusted state legislator. At this point, he will leave the city council and create a vacancy.

This is one of the situations that occurs every so often and can be smoothly settled behind the political scenes with a bit of theatrical makeup for the citizens or can turn into an all-out brawl. A modified version of an orchestrated vote last occurred when Anu Natarajan was appointed to a vacant council seat in 2005. Although the choice was politically motivated, Anu has proven to be a reasonable voice and now holds her seat through the election process. I quoted Mayor Wasserman and explained the math of that occasion in my editorial of January 4, 2005 ( Fremont could have done a lot worse but the political maneuvering was plain for all to see.

The current version of political math is a bit more complex since the players involved can fit in one of two scenarios: three or four councilmembers in lockstep or two within the party fold and two mavericks. In the event that the election results in two new faces on the council and Wieckowski is out of the picture, tactical manipulation of all votes is unlikely and the result will be unpredictable. If voters reelect the incumbents, their two victories will result in a real net gain of three (including the vacant seat) plus the Mayor and Councilmember Chan for a grand total of five.

While I do not advocate voting for council representatives based on these considerations, the appointment of a successor for Wieckowski will be an interesting coda to the November elections.

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