“Come on, Lester, you’re the one that’s supposed to have all the answers. Why am I sagging in the polls? We are down nine points to that unknown newbie. Time to earn all that money I’m paying you.”
“Well, Mayor, your problem is simple. Voters don’t see you as someone who will take a positive stand on any issues that bother them. My latest surveys say that people think you’re afraid to upset one group or another because you might lose their votes. Your opponent has taken a strong stand on issues from urban sprawl to increasing pay for city workers and teachers. You need to find something to take a stand on.”
“Sure, it’s easy for him to say he’ll put a stop to all the new construction. He’s not receiving a major portion of his campaign funding from land developers and real estate brokers. If I say I’ll stop the construction of an apartment complex or new shopping center just to ease traffic congestion, I’ll lose funding. If there’s no big money donations for me, there’s no paycheck for you.”
“I can certainly understand your point of view, Mr. Mayor, and I have a couple of suggestions that just might alter your downward slide. First, I think you should debate your challenger. Refusing to debate him while you are leading in the polls might have been a viable strategy in the beginning, but you’re no longer number one. According to my surveys, people are taking your refusal as arrogant and issue dodging. Second, you must take a stand against something most people find repulsive, like homeless camps and graffiti.”
“Lester, I’ve already told you that there is no way I will debate this guy. He would have a field day picking apart many of the things I’ve done during my years in office. I might as well invite the IRS in to do an audit. As for homeless camps, I’m sure that as soon as I announce a crackdown on the homeless, some bleeding-heart liberal group will kick up a fuss.”
“Now graffiti is an issue that just might work. These so-called street artists are making our city look like vandals are overrunning it. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on; we can all agree that this tagging phenomenon has got to stop. Yes, that’s a brilliant idea! I’m glad I thought of it. I’ll call this plan my Great Erase Initiative.”
The next day, the mayor held a news conference to announce his plan to eradicate the city’s graffiti scourge. In front of the cameras, he ordered the head of the public works department to assign a crew to scour away this blight from every building, every sidewalk, every fence, and every street sign. When this initiative was complete, the city would glisten the way it once had. He then turned to the police commissioner and gave specific instructions to arrest and prosecute anyone defiling this great city.
Polls began to turn in the mayor’s favor as the residents witnessed a change in how their city looked. The public works crew had started on the north end of town and systematically worked their way south until there was only one neighborhood left to scour. To celebrate his impressive accomplishment, the mayor held another press conference, with all the local and regional news media in attendance. Standing in front of a rickety old fence, on a cloudy, frosty morning, the mayor addressed the gathering.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming to witness this momentous occasion. Several months ago, I had a vision to rid this city of the unsightly scourge of graffiti. Because of the hard work of both our public works and police departments, that vision has become a reality. Behind me is the last vestige of our graffiti plague. Now it’s time for it to disappear forever.”
“Keep your grubby paws away from my fence.”
An elderly lady from the back of the crowd pushed her way to the mayor’s podium.
“This is my fence, and I paid Alberto de Meneses to create these spectacular works of art. Your bullies have destroyed several of his works around the city, but not mine. Now everyone, get off of my property!”
The incident made national news the next day, but not the way the mayor had hoped.
ABC News: Local mayor chastised for attempting to destroy art.
CBS News: Property owner defends her fence art from the city mayor’s attack.
NBC News: An elderly woman stands her ground against the bully mayor.
FOX News: A radical old woman protects graffiti she calls art.
CNN: Art-loving grandma confronts mayor. More after the break
A week later, the incumbent dropped his reelection bid.
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.