March 22, 2013 10:48:01 AM
About 50 people crowded into the Grill Room at Lion Hills Golf Club Thursday for the latest episode of the Columbus Exchange Club Candidates Forum, which those in attendance will recall as "The 57 minutes of my life I really, really wish I had back."
The three candidates for Columbus mayor - incumbent Robert Smith and challengers Bo Jarrett and Glenn Lautzenhiser -- had 10 minutes each to make their pitch.
I will not swear to the accuracy of this account of the forum on the grounds that my eyes became incredibly heavy and my note-taking was impeded by the fact that my hand actually fell asleep in mid-quote.
But I was able to maintain semi-consciousness long enough to get the general gist of what each candidate had to say.
Although Jarrett is probably considered the "outsider," I have to give him props for being the most interesting candidate during Friday's luncheon event. Actually, the meat loaf was the most interesting, but it didn't meet the qualifying deadline.
Basically, Jarrett's very brief address could be summed up in the following sentence, which I was able to paraphrase as, "There is stuff going on that I should not talk about here. In fact, I probably shouldn't even be saying that I shouldn't be saying it. That's just how secret this information should be. It is so secret, in fact, that even I don't know about it. So there you have it."
Glenn Lautzenhiser, long known as a great repository of interesting facts, was probably the most informative of the group. Asked what he thought was the city's greatest asset, Lautzenhiser said, confidently, "The atomic weight of platinum is 195.08."
Of course, few could argue with him on that point.
He also said something very interesting about Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I do not remember what it was.
Incumbent Robert Smith, when asked about the city's crime problem went on record as saying that he is "very much opposed to crime" and wished people would just stop doing it. It would make things much easier for the Columbus Police Department if folks would just act right for a change.
Smith reminded the dozing audience of all the things that have come to the city since he became mayor 6 ½ years ago, a list that includes the Riverwalk, The Columbus Soccer Complex, The Trotter Convention Center, Friendship Cemetery, the Tombigbee River (which he personally dug) and Christopher Columbus himself. Not that he was taking any personal credit for that stuff, you understand.
After the candidates had finished their brief speeches, it was time for questions from the audience.
One particularly handsome, intelligent and generous audience member asked the candidates about the biggest challenge that faces the city in the coming years.
Jarrett said it was drugs, adding that by even saying the word "drugs," he had probably already said too much.
Lautzenhiser said the big challenge will be getting all of the people to work together, perhaps on an interesting three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle of some sort.
Smith said the biggest challenge will be getting that Monique Montgomery woman off his back. What is the deal with her, anyhow?
Another person had a question about the effectiveness of sending young delinquents to the state prison at Parchman for a day. He said he had watched a TV show where that happened and it was very effective.
Then another audience member said he hadn't seen the show, but he had been a part of that sort of program. It didn't work like it did on TV, he said.
"I like that Honey Boo Boo show,'' another audience member observed. "Maybe we should send juvenile delinquents to see Honey Boo Boo.''
So, as you can see, the race for mayor is off to a rip-snortin', pulse-raisin' start.
Based on my observations of the Exchange Club Candidates Forum, I predict that voters will sleep-walk to the polls in record numbers.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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