May 13 2008 07:55 PM

Our attempts to booze with the City Council hopefuls


We had a plan: We wanted to have a beer with all the candidates running for City Council. We figured we could get them liquored up a bit and find out who they really are before they had their politician masks firmly in place. Unfortunately, we ran into problems. First, a lot of candidates wouldn't drink with us. It would be unprofessional, they said. Whatever. Second, we just ran out of time, and we couldn't speak with everyone. So, to Robert Lee, Paul Broadway, Bill Daniel and David Tos, we're terribly sorry. Anyway, here are our observations:

• Candidates who actually drank with us: Todd Gloria (beer), Stephen Whitburn (beer) and Marshall Merrifield (margarita). Way to let your hair down, fellas.

• Best meeting locations: Tie between Marti Emerald and Todd Gloria. We asked candidates to choose the place. Gloria took us to Bourbon Street, a hip bar with a nice patio in University Heights. Emerald took us to Nicolosi's, an Italian joint near the College Area and clearly a neighborhood favorite. We appreciate the local charm.

• Worst meeting locations: Sherri Lightner, George George and April Boling each took us to Coco's-three different locations. (Actually, Lightner got crowded out by another meeting, so we ended up elsewhere.) A chain restaurant? What's up with that? You'd think candidates for public office would choose to support local independent eateries.

• Playing by the rules, or not: Stephen Whitburn was adamant about buying his own beer, per campaign-finance regulations. All others paid for their own refreshments-except for April Boling, who, having worked as a campaign treasurer, should know the rules. No biggie-it was just an iced tea. Gloria gets extra points for declining the Bourbon Street bartender's offer of a complimentary beverage.

• Gabbiest companion: John Beatty, who accompanied Marti Emerald. We were flattered by his familiarity of CityBeat, but he answered about half of the questions we posed to Emerald. Dude, you're not the candidate; let her field a few more.

• Most entertaining companion: Jane Potter, who accompanied Sherri Lightner. She seemed to know when to bide her time, but she was funny and informative when she did decide to jump in, and she knew lots of gossip. Who doesn't like gossip?

• Most unfortunate distraction: During our meeting in the bar at the Hyatt in University Town Center, Phil Thalheimer got a call: The family dog had to be put to sleep. We offered to end the meeting, but he was determined to soldier on.

• Biggest choke under pressure: Stephen Whitburn, who blanked when we asked him to pick a place to meet. We had to pick for him: The Red Fox Room in North Park.

• Lamest lameness: Hands down, Carl DeMaio. Not only did DeMaio cancel our meeting the day before we were scheduled to meet, he also refused to reschedule. His press assistant wrote us saying, "Being that our race will likely be over on June 3rd," he'd love to meet with us after that.

• Most confused candidate: Tie between Phil Thalheimer and John Hartley (pre-"leak" incident). Hartley sat with editor Dave Rolland for nearly two hours before discovering that Rolland was the paper's editor, and that was after Rolland had moderated a candidates forum that included Hartley. Thalheimer spent his entire interview making confusing references to Internet-based news outlets. It wasn't until after the meeting that we realized he probably thought we were

• Candidate we'd drink with again: Marshall Merrifield. The guy's a hoot. He cracked jokes, regaled us with tales of his associations with Barack Obama and John McCain and his exploits as a punter on Princeton University's football team. Upon learning of Dave Rolland's theatrical past, Merrifield broke into song, serenading the CityBeat editor with show tunes several times. And he wasn't even drunk.


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