Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mayfield Hts Mayoral Race

You can tell it's election season. The yard signs are everywhere. As you drive up Lander Road from Ridgebury towards Mayfleld Rd, it seems like more houses have the yard signs than not. In particular, the one's I notice are signs for the two Mayoral candidates; current Mayor Gregory S. Costabile and challenger Howard Sonenstein. Both of their signs had urls on 'em so I went and check them out.

Me being me, first thing I did is to check their sites with the wc3 validator. Color me impressed. The Mayor's site had only 5 errors, and the challengers only 3 errors. The Mayor's site looks like a simple mistake, while the Challengers is due to a piece of javascript. Pretty much as good as you could ask for...except fully valid of course.

Both sites also pass Section 508 validation tests, and both fail Web Accessibility. Both of these validation tests are to check:

"compliance with U.S. federal standards for accessible Web content, outlined in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, Section 508, Subpart B, §1194.22. Additionally, this guide can assist you in ensuring that your Web-based documents comply with World Wide Web, or W3C® WCAG 1.0 , accessibility guidelines."

Taking a look at the source, I was surprised to find that neither had google analytics code embedded to track access to the site. Perhaps someone is using a server based log analyzer. I would certainly hope so anyway because otherwise they have no idea who is accessing their sites nor from where.

Neither site, though, provided RSS feeds. So clearly the sites are static and largely will not change. Which of course without RSS feeds no one is going to know it changed anyway. Clearly it seems to me that they have web sites because they are expected to have websites, but that their web presence is not really part of the campaign strategy.

I cannot understand why sites like these don't have RSS. It just makes no sense to me. Even if the candidate doesn't understand it you would hope that the creators of the site do. I would have to say that this reflects more poorly on the Mr. Costabile than Mr. Sonenstein, as the Mayor has in his bio that the web site was "improved". Not nearly enough in my opinion. He does suggest that more changes are on the way so we'll see.

Okay, so that's where I always start. With the web site, how it's constructed and whether its really a part of their campaign. Clearly, it's window dressing to say that have one.

As a relatively new resident to Mayfield Heights, I have no idea who either these gentlemen are. So I read through the mass quantity of information available on their sites, all two or three pages (that sound you hear is me pulling my tongue out of my cheek). What I found interesting is that for many of the "achievements" of Mayfield Heights government, both take credit. And probably validly so, since one was the Mayor and the other on City Council. One would assume they would have to work together to get things done.

Gregory S. Costabile Howard Sonenstein
Accomplishments Accomplishments
Purchase of Oakville Park Purchase of Oakville Park
Improved Cable TV Improved Cable TV
Settled Costco Settled Costco
Senior Transportation Senior Transportation

Okay, so until that point it really doesn't matter to me which to vote for, since clearly they have both done good things. I think Mr. Costabile wins in that as he is the incumbent - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There has to be something to differentiate the candidates, and of course there is.

Mr. Costabile goes on to list other accomplishments such as obtaining grants, managing the ODOT project so it was ended early and under budget amongst other things. On the other hand, Mr. Sonenstein lists the committees he was on and clearly had to work with the Mayor on some of those issues/accomplishments.

What is clearly different though is Mr. Sonenstein's claim to have fought the Mayor and the City Council President over a gas well in the Mayfield City Park. While I'm sure that the revenue from the well would help the city financially, from an eye-sore perspective in one of the really nice places in the City, I'd have to side with Mr. Sonenstein on this one.

On the other hand, Mr. Costabile points to increased environmental awareness and activities. He lays claims to planting trees and conducting energy audits of City Buildings. No where on Mr. Sonenstein's site is there mention of what I consider a critical issue. So I have to side with Mr. Constabile on this one as at least it's on his radar. I'd like to see both candidates, but at a minimum, Mr. Costabile since it is on his platform, to show up at my brother George's talk at the Townhall Series on October 26th. They'd learn quite a bit from someone who is playing a large environmental role in a major city(Washington D.C.)

So they both are still about even, with the incumbent being a tad bit ahead in my opinion so far. That brings me to their "platforms". I really like the fact that both candidates have clearly labeled "platforms" of what they plan to bring to the Office. Again, being a web guy, Mr. Sonenstein gets kudos for having the easier to read.  His platform is numbered for easy reading, while Mr. Costabiles is more like a document, a bunch of paragraphs. Not that there is anything wrong with that per se, but it's just a little harder to read. Personally, I like the way Jill Miller Zimon has her campaign page where her issues are clearly labeled and you can pick the one you are interested on and it opens up to show just that piece. (To be fair, Jill's top page is filled with over 300 html validation errors, so both Mayfield gentlemen win in that regard. Note, I'm a big fan of Jill's regardless of whether I agree with everything or nothing she says. She's smart, dedicated, thorough, eloquent and worth listening to for what she has to say.)

Unfortunately, Mr Sonenstein completely loses me with his final item. It's in all caps. Why is he shouting at me? I don't even know the guy. Okay, I get that he's trying to emphasize it, but in the internet world ALL CAPS means one of two things; your all caps key is stuck or your shouting.

To add to that impression, in this section he insuates some serious claims. While he doesn't state it out right, he suggests that Mr. Costabile, the current mayor, uses the office for personal gain, plays favorites based on political favors, and does not commit to the job full time. That's some serious claims particularly when you are shouting them.

To be blunt, based on the contents and the style in which it's rendered, I find it unprofessional and childish. And that's where Mr. Sonenstein loses me. In addition, the platform of Mr. Costabile is much more thorough, covering a wide range of very specific topics. Mr Sonenstein's does as well, just not as thorough.

However, let's take a look at them specifically.

Gregory S. Costabile Howard Sonenstein
Platform Platform
Continued development of Economic plan - business park Job Fair
Work with planners to support strong retail district Cut Taxes based on reduced property value
Establish committee to develop action plan for Oakville Park Health Care - leverage Hillcrest to provide immunizations, flu shots for residents, and clinics for those with no insurance, and creation(?) of other clinics
Expand Unity Day committee to include more residents Create Dog Park
Expand Senior Programs Sidewalk and Apron Replacement
Create new programs for teeanagers - volunteer opportunities and social events Offer "out of hours" building inspections
Strengthen regional ties, improve state and federal relationships More programs for children including sprinkler park
Expand building department services  shouting...sorry, that' should be: dedicate full time to office, treat residents equally, open and honest communication
Provide Fire and Police with state of art equipment and training

More recreational activities

Equip Services department to provide chipper services, leaf pickup, sidewalk repair etc.

Develop community groups

Find new and improved ways to be environmentally consicous

Implement grant to improve Ross Center

What seems to be clear to me is that Mr. Sonenstein wants to cut property taxes, create a job fair where residents have priority, and improved health care. Mr. Costabile at a minimum is keeping taxes the same, that lengthy list would hint as possible tax increase. But perhaps not. At a minimum, Mr. Costabile has a more thorough platform. Unclear to me is how he plans to pay for all of these items.

In the end though, I'd have to say I lean fairly heavily at this point to Mr. Costabile. Remember, I don't know either of these gentlemen and wouldn't know them if they passed me on the street. I am simply going by their websites.

I'd also like to point out to Mr. Sonenstein that if you click on the "Photos" link from the platform page, you are linked to a "template" that suggests the page was created in Scotland. I found the following pages on your site:

You might want to fix those or at least get a refund from whoever created this site. That's really unprofessional.

So, who is your choice and why?

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