Mobile woke up early on Tuesday morning, August 25. But it wasn’t easy, as the rain from Marco was still falling gently out her window — or maybe it wasn’t Marco but Laura making her introduction.
Two systems in the Gulf at the same time? About right for 2020, she thought.
The 318-year-old city had lived through the yellow fever epidemic of 1819 that killed nearly half of her population and the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, not to mention wars and catastrophic hurricanes. But 2020 was ranking right up there as one of the worst years she and her citizens had ever experienced. It hadn’t taken as much life as the other pandemics, but it had certainly taken hope.
But, she wasn’t going to focus on that right now. And at least Marco had fizzled out, and both storms had luckily decided to keep moseying west. She would count her blessings in that regard. And hope Louisiana and Texas fared well.
She always felt a bit guilty to be relieved when storms hooked east or west, sparing her. But she knows it’s only a matter of time before she takes a direct hit again too (it’s been over 40 years though!), and the unaffected feel the same way she does now. Such is life on the Gulf Coast. An absolute paradise, until the day your cone of uncertainty gets suddenly really decisive and nasty, and all is lost.
She looked out the window of Government Plaza and wondered for a moment when her luck would finally run out. But she quickly dismissed those thoughts and turned her attention to more pressing matters.
Several of her “offspring” had mayoral elections today. It’s not like they called her Mama, but they all knew none of them would exist without her.
But some of these races had gotten quite, well, racy. And she needed to check on her civic daughters.
She started with her eldest, Fairhope, who would turn 126 in November.
“Hey, girl! How are you feeling today?” Mobile asked.
“Well, you know how it is. I am nervous every Election Day. It’s always a bit unsettling not knowing whose hands are going to be on your wheel for the next four years, if you know what I mean. I just hope they aren’t sweaty hands. I hate it when I get a sweaty-handed mayor,” Fairhope said in disgust.
“I hear there is quite a bit of drama in that race,” Mobile said.
“Oh, yes,” Fairhope confirmed. “I have my incumbent Karin Wilson. And she is facing three challengers, including a former employee she fired, Sherry Sullivan.”
“Yikes!” Mobile said. “Nothing gets nastier than a race with a revenge candidacy. Trust me, I know. I had one in my last election.”
“Oh, I’ve seen it here too. And the colony’s chattering class seems to think these two, who both have a lot of support from different Fairhope factions, will end up in the runoff. So I may get even more of this! Yay!”
“You know, Fair, I have been through way more elections than you have. So let me just give you some advice. Trust your citizens. They know who is in it for you and who is in for their own self-interests. The lesser candidate usually reveals himself or herself. And your people usually make the right decision,” Mobile said. “At least in my experience. And I’m ancient. Not Rome ancient. But pretty damn close!”
“I know you are right, Mo,” Fairhope said. “I just don’t like the ugliness. We have a lot of important work to do.”
“I saw that on the news. Have y’all figured out the right-sized trees for your downtown yet?” Mo quipped.
“You are making me fun of me now, aren’t you?” Fairhope asked.
“Well, I mean, only in Fairhope would trees require an emergency meeting,” Mo teased.
“Har. Har. That’s not true. We call those for flower infractions too,” Fair joked right back.
Mo wished her luck, promising to check back in the next day.
As she was hanging up with Fairhope, she got a beep from her youngest, Spanish Fort.
Founded in 1993, this girl hadn’t even celebrated her “Dirty 30” yet, but Mo was proud of her. She has great schools and even a Bass Pro Shop!!!!
And if you thought Fairhope had a lot of drama going on in her race, well, she ain’t got nothing on Spanish Fort.
“Hey Spannie, how’s it going?” Mo asked.
“Well, I mean, um, I guess we’ll see what side my citizens fall on Slap-gate,” she said.
Spanish Fort’s mayor, Mike McMillan, is charged with harassment after allegedly slapping a female employee last October. She was later fired. She said out of retaliation. The city says it’s because she wasn’t doing her job.
A video surfaced of the incident in question earlier this month, a few weeks before the election. McMillan has denied the allegation.
But, of course, everyone in the young city has an opinion on the matter.
“As I told Fairhope, just trust your people. They usually make the right decision,” Mo said.
“Did you tell OBA that too?” Spanish Fort chuckled.
Orange Beach, the little tourist darling of Alabama, had been dealing with her own mayoral election shenanigans, as someone sent out a piece of mail last week alleging her mayor, Tony Kennon, had been involved in all kinds of illicit activities.
Kennon, never one to shy away from controversy, addressed this on his weekly Facebook video chat, “Tuesdays with Tony,” except since the mail was delivered on Wednesday or Thursday it was changed to a special edition of “Tuesdays with Tony (on Thursday!).”
“Talk about ‘Must See TV,’” Mo said. “Geez!”
“Right!?! And you thought your ‘big city’ elections were nasty?” Spanish Fort said.
“Hey, my next mayoral election is only a year away! And it’s already shaping up to be a wild one too, with longtime City Councilman Fred Richardson running against incumbent Sandy Stimpson, and a few more are rumored to be jumping in the mix soon too.”
“Fred v. Sandy. That will be a doozy,” Spannie said.
“I just hope it doesn’t tear my city apart. Elections seem to be really good at that,” Mobile said.
“Yep, but don’t worry, Mo,” Spanish Fort said. “As some really, really, really old, decrepit city once told me, ‘The citizens usually get it right.’”
“Yep. And she sounds brilliant!” Mo laughed.
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