"Record it for the grandson of your son - A city is not builded in a day," Vachel Lindsey
Rick "Baron" Gattone is the Republican candidate for the Lovejoy council seat, and will likely face the popular Rich Fontana (D) in the general election. The Baron granted the Illuzzi letter an exclusive interview last week, while, at the same time, effecting repairs on a friend’s motor boat. Indeed, the cloudless blue sky, a bright yellow sun starting its nightly descent, and the mighty Niagara, made a fitting backdrop for the dark haired, goateed, and suntanned Gattone, who, while cleaning spark plugs and spraying ether in the engine, waxed poetic on a number of topics.
The Waterfront? "The waterfront should be used as recreation/green space-not developed for buildings and parking lots, etc. Look at Cleveland!" Gattone said, while cleaning sediment from a spark plug. " ' We should build parks that students from afar would choose to starve in, rather than go home.' "
Gaming? "I'm for it," said Gattone "But it must be done properly. It’s not a silver bullet, but should be viewed as a catalyst to inspire more entrepreneurial endeavor."
Unions? Gattone was terse, as he adjusted the idle of the motor. He limited his response to three words: "Proper minority percentages."
Lovejoy? "I am very familiar with the Tops in Filmore talks. Great. But I know something equally important. Tops- Lovejoy. Too many people have no access to healthy food. It's a travesty, especially for our young ones. I would try to use my office to attract investments. I would like to work toward getting a state of the art health club in the district. It should be affordable and provide services above and beyond etc. I would work to inspire a greater recognition and appreciation of the arts. Improve housing. And, of course, my eyes will be keenly focused on racism. Sadly, and embarrassingly, Lovejoy is known for its racial tensions."
Ultimately, Gattone was successful in starting the motor, and one minute and 45 seconds later, Gattone was seated next to this interlocutor at the helm of the boat as it cruised upstream toward Lake Erie. The sun, now a brilliant orange, was setting over Grand Island, and the Baron spoke in sotto voice, just above the purr of the engine: "Education and awareness, that’s what I stand for. To embrace diversity, yes, actually embrace it- this would be the hallmark of my tenure. Look, this is not about a job. I have a good job. In fact, I may be the only candidate running who doesn’t care if he gets elected. It’s up to the pure will of the people. I will be satisfied with their answer."
Gattone, who can name his lineage through at least fourteen generations of Spanish nobility said something that few candidates have had the temerity to say: Noblese oblige, one might say, is the hallmark of the Baron’s nature: He refused to say he was superior to his opponent. "Who am I to say I am better than Fontana or anyone else?" asked the Baron. "It’s up to the people to decide. This run for office is about serving my community. If I should win, I would serve for one term only, then move on to serve my community in different ways. I think this is better than to develop a life of a career politician."
The sun sank below the river; the afterglow turned the sky a vibrant sunset red. The Baron, clearly enjoying the scene, added almost wistfully, "Our time is short, my friend. The road is long. I realize my chance of winning is remote. But, still, the American way is to offer people a chance for change. Fontana is there; he is a nice boy, a very nice boy, but, in the final analysis, he may represent the culture of politics as usual - this idea that we must reelect incumbents that causes a sort of indigenous corruption that favors, for instance - contributors in development projects - instead of selecting purely on merit- or makes politicians bow, for instance, before media, - take the Adelphia deal - and, in turn, makes cowards of polticians who can’t do or say what they know is right for fear of not getting reelected."
It was dusk, then dark; a broken moon appeared above, and the lights in the boat were turned on. When a dash of river spray splashed us -this -on the heels of a wave caused by a fellow motor boater traveling a little too close and too fast, Gattone showed a slight flash of anger. "You see, things beyond our control affect our lives. This culture of reelecting incumbents has led to the decline of our city, and indeed the whole American political process. Maybe the sun should set on the mendacious mentality that makes voters vote for incumbents in spite of a steady decline in the America system and all its core moral values. If I am elected, quality of life issues will predominate with me. You know why? Because I know I’m going back to the private sector without the privilege of elected office. I want to live well in Lovejoy, as a private, not a public person. We should come from the private sector, serve for a time, then return to the private sector. That’s the ideal...."
Rich Fontana is a good man, and, in my opinion, an honest man, and likely he will win. Gattone's chances are about one in fifty in this heavily Democratic district. But as I traveled a bit on the river with Gattone, it occurred to me that it would be good for fresh voices and fresh faces to rise to serve, each in thier turn. And that a system where incumbency was not an advantage at all, where educated voters evaluated each candidate on the merits of thier vision, this would be suprerior to our present system where incumbency is the single most important factor in elections and the voter knows almost nothing. A society where each came to serve for a time, and declined to serve too often is the ideal. 'Let no man rule who holds who holds his money dear,' or, for that matter, who hold his office dear. Yes, 'We must have many Lincoln-hearted men. For a city is not builded in a day.'