So, first, a bit of disclosure. A couple of months ago I got an email from Mark DeSantis asking to meet and chat, based on the fact that I do this (blog). I am sure he sent that email to a lot of bloggers, and a lot of bloggers met with him. At the time at my shop we were really busy with a fiscal year end, and he mentioned a daylight time, so I had to put him off. I still am pretty busy, as it happens, so I haven’t re-contacted him. So I haven’t talked to him in person, FWIW.
A commenter over on Matt H’s blog is taking full advantage of the anonymity of commenting, changing names three, maybe four times, while he comments (in this case it seems clear it is the same commenter, having fun with names). He has said some silly things, like calling DeSantis "Lil Bush", but he has made one good point. Mark DeSantis’ website does not have any real content in terms of policy proposals. I have heard some talk that he is waiting for later in the fall to introduce detailed policy statements. To be fair, the Luke for Mayor site is pretty slim on content too, just videos of the Mayor talking in generalities.
Of course, Mayor Ravenstahl had famously introduced a tax abatement plan similar to but larger in scope than the one Bill Peduto had introduced back in the spring. But if DeSantis is trying to avoid something like that happening, he should ask himself how would it be for a democrat to introduce a plan suggested by a republican? Now, DeSantis does have a paper trail, articles he has written, so some of his views could be ferreted out. And I suppose I could understand waiting to have a platform, such as a televised debate, from which to make a policy announcement. Plus there could be a concern for voter fatigue, if Mr. DeSantis tries to engage voters on issues early.
But, for me, this is the thing: Mr. DeSantis needs to have democratic voters wrap their heads around the notion of voting republican. My family lives in the East End. My mom says she doesn’t know anyone who likes Mayor Ravenstahl. That’s the East End, the University district. DeSantis may carry that area, but there is the whole rest of the city to talk to. He needs to start talking to them, and grab their attention. Its possible even bad policy proposals might be better than none. I hope he is out shaking some hands in the evenings or on the weekends.
Right now, between the interim incumbent and the challenger, the only solid proposal on the city’s debt (that I've seen) came from a third person, Dan Onorato, as a throw away remark on the KG/PG show last Sunday. When asked whether city-county merger might mean the suburbs would have to assume some of the city’s debt, Onorato first protected his suburban base, saying the suburbs would never have to assume city debt. Then he protected his city base, saying the state legislature would bail out the city as a one time thing, perhaps as a reward if we did achieve a city county merger (a bailout in exchange for our effort to achieve good governance, I believe he said). Even Dan Onorato doesn’t think the city can grow its way out of its debt. His suggestion, however, seems like an exercise in fantasy. The rural part of the state legislature is going to want to bleed all of Allegheny County dry before coughing up any support for the city’s debt.
I guess I will have to go fishing (or ferreting, as I put it above), to get a handle on Mr. DeSantis. Googling, I suppose.