Susan Howitz Hanna was actually at a bit of a disadvantage. Due to a scheduling problem I was unable to meet her face to face, and we had to talk by phone. However, she already had a distinct advantage with me, as I love female candidates. I found the choice between Clinton and Obama difficult to make for a very long time. And when I hit the section on a ballot that contains judges, comptrollers and water supervisory and the like, I'll admit that if I'm at a loss I'll look for the women.
She was harder for me to wrap my head around than the previous two candidates. I like to go into my talks knowing key issues, background info and the likes. I adore candidate websites. I consider them a glimspe into the candidates' souls.
With Howitz Hanna I had to fly blind. She told me she had only decided this weekend to run, after receiving numerous phonecalls and emails from supporters asking her to throw her hat in the ring. Probably because of this late entry she seemed much less prepared to me to discuss what she was ready to focus on in the neighborhood. When I asked her about the pressing "quick hit" proposal she'd enact right off if elected, she said she'd focus on making sure none of the city services we've come to rely on are cut in the wake of budget cutbacks.
But her enthusiasm for the ward was obvious. As a native Nordeasterner, she wanted to be sure the communities were livable and the housing inventory beginning to build up locally is seen and sold. She discussed neighborhood programs like those in North that involve small businesses and realtors promoting their neighborhoods, doing tours and the like.
Combined with her focus on trying to get businesses to move back into the vacant industrial buildings in the neighborhoods, Howitz Hanna described a plan she hopes will bring more residents back into the area, bringing people closer to their jobs. She said she believes that communities are trending smaller and people will want to live where they can ride or walk to work.
I asked her what she thought would be her biggest strength as a candidate, and she explained that it would be her ability to see and represent the overall picture -- that she would represent not just the people who go to websites for information and attend all of the neighborhood meetings, but also the people who just work and pay their taxes, but need to have a voice, too. She said she would work hard to make sure that all groups have an equal voice.
It was obvious that her campaign was only a few days old, and yet to find its footing. But Susan Howitz Hanna was engaging to speak with and again, I'm always drawn to a female candidate.
Friday I will be talking with Kevin Reich, and I intend to make a decision sometime this weekend.