Former Anaheim councilwoman Lori Galloway has an interesting strategy for her bid to become the city’s next mayor.
She wants her longtime ally, Mayor Tom Tait, to step aside and run for a City Council seat, clearing the way for her to run for mayor.
What’s raising eyebrows is the fact that Galloway was often Tait's ally over the years on key council votes, even saying on the record that he was a "great mayor showing strength and courage."
Nobody's more stunned than Tait himself.
Galloway says she truly believes Mayor Tait is doing a poor job and is ineffective and isolated.
She wants Tait to call it quits and run for a council seat in the November 2014 election.
“I believe that I have something very different that I can offer. There's no doubt right now there is acrimony and dissension on the current council, and that causes stagnation,” said Galloway.
“I see it, that he's isolated. I see it, that he's isolated from [city] staff as well as all the other council members. And what it does is it causes him to not be able to get things done,” she added.
“To do anything, to get anything done, you have to build consensus. No matter how you do it, you must build consensus.”
Galloway says Mayor Tait is unable to build those bridges with both fellow council members and outside entities to get things done.
“She had called me, and she had told me personally that that was her plan,” said Tait. “Frankly, I was shocked. Well, that's silly. I mean, why would I run for council when I'm the mayor. That makes no sense.”
Mayor Tait has been under fire recently by critics who point out that he consistently loses 4-1 votes on crucial Anaheim issues such as hotel subsidies, the Angel Stadium lease and district-based voting for council members, which is being sought by Latino groups.
Tait says he is going to continue to stand on principle and not just go along to get along.
He says he's going to fight for the taxpayer, not the rich developer promising campaign contributions to candidates.
“It's very odd. I've never heard of it before. Of course I'm not going to run for council. I'm the mayor, and I've got initiatives that we're working on, and we're making great progress, I believe. … I'm absolutely not going to step down,” said Tait.
“When I took over the mayorship, the city was losing about $56,000 a day and had been for two years under the former administration. We cut $15 million out of the budget, structurally, right off the bat. Now we're adding back to our [reserve], which was almost depleted, and we're actually adding back to it. So financially we're doing well.”
Galloway says Tait's leadership has not improved Anaheim.
She says there's a big gap between the haves and the have-nots, minority communities are not being heard and the city continues to face major infrastructure problems.
Galloway says the mayor's only answer to all of this is that “kindness” will cure all that ails Anaheim.
Asked if he’s too kind for the job, Tait says there’s no such thing.
“You can’t be too kind for a job. … As you know, I ran on a platform of freedom and kindness,” Tait said. “When you talk about creating social infrastructure and social capital in the city where a community comes together, it's the kindness that is really the mortar to all that.”
“I don't want to bash the kindness agenda,” she said. “It is always right to be kind and compassionate. But there are times when we need to be strong, we need to work to build that consensus, because you gotta get things done. In the end, you have to get things done.”
But Tait says that while some might associate kindness with not being strong, it’s actually “the ultimate strength.”
Intriguingly, Galloway is saying Mayor Tait is not a strong leader after praising him for his strength and leadership on different occasions in public.
The infighting is likely amusing to the council majority that has been opposing Mayor Tait. They want to get rid of him, and now Galloway could help them do it.
Additionally, while Galloway often sided with Tait on the council, one area they differed on was how to deal with the city's public employees.
Tait has been a stickler for cutting back on pensions and the like.
Galloway, meanwhile, is much friendlier with unions.
This story was adapted for print by Nick Gerda.