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    ELB Now At Ground-Zero In Showdown Council, School Board Races

    (May 7, 2006, updated with response and counter-response) -- On Sunday morning (May 7) at about dawn, we received a flaming email (text below) from the usually even-tempered Ed Barwick, a gracious man who finished third in ELB's Fifth District Council race.

    In the April 11 election, Gerrie Schipske finished first and incumbent Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Jackie Kell finished second (running a write-in campaign). Schipske and Kell will now meet in a June 6 showdown runoff.

    Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere about the 5th district election being a sleepy race dealing with fixing sidewalks, ELB voters are now at ground zero in a nuclear battleground for the soul and control of the city.

    As we view things, LB's pro-downtown, pro-Airport, pro-Port, pro-Chamber of Commerce interests are desperate to keep Kell as one of their safe votes...although roughly 3/4 of ELB voters said on April 11 that they want Kell out.

    While Barwick dissented from Kell on a new tax for libraries (Kell supported it, then flip-flopped), he was basically pro-Port, pro-LNG, pro-Airport. That meant a Kell vs. Barwick contest didn't really threaten the usual suspects regardless of the outcome.

    But Ms. Schipske threw a monkey-wrench in the machine. She zoomed past Barwick and actually edged out Kell by about two dozen votes, likely boosted by turnout in the April ELB School Board race in which the Teachers Ass'n of LB sought to unseat School Boardmember Jim Choura.

    Both of those ELB battles will be amplified when the School Board race goes to a decisive June runoff at the same time as Schipske collides with Kell (the latter waging a write-in campaign to stay in office despite term limits).

    As an added wrinkle, Ms. Schipske is General Counsel (in-house lawyer) for the Teachers Ass'n of LB...and lawn signs are now very visible in ELB in TALB's distinctive format saying Ms. Schipske is the "Teachers' Choice" (although for the record, Kell is a former teacher.)

    The bottom line: there's a real possibility that Schipske will be ELB's new Councilwoman...and she might not do what the usual suspects want.

    We'll have more to say about the Schipske vs. Kell race on the merits later, but for now here's what Ms. Schipske's mailer actually said, followed by Mr. Barwick's response (posted in full). [Update] Updated with a response from Ms. Schipske. [Further update] And updated with a further reesponse from Mr. Barwick. [!]

    From Schipske mailer ("The Homefront"), a newsletter format, as part of a story titled "Voters Say: 'Time for a Change.'" [emphasis/formatting below as in original]:

    ...Ed Barwick (who received 1,623 votes) took his hardest swipe at Kell in his last campaign piece by pointing out the following facts:

    • "The incumbent approved an 11.3% budget increase right before the city went into a $102 million deficit, and then cut library and other spending."

    Ed Barwick specifically criticized Kell because:

    • "The incumbent believes we need a sales tax increase on the ballot in November, and previously proposed almost $40 million in tax increases!"

    • "The 5th District is actually in the bottom 1/3 of completed sidewalk repairs."

    Below is the text of Mr. Barwick's May 8 email to

    I have just received in the mail a very deceptive mailer from 5th District candidate Gerrie Schipske that implies I have endorsed her in the June election. Nothing could be further from the truth and Miss Schipske, through personal correspondence, clearly knows I do not support her.

    I have also received several telephone calls from friends asking me about my endorsement after they received this same mailer entitled "The Home Front."

    I have not endorsed Gerrie Schipske. I am proudly endorsing Councilwoman Jackie Kell and encourage everyone to write in Jackie Kell in the space provided on the June 6th ballot under City Council, District 5.

    This mailer is a good example of why I am endorsing Councilwoman Kell for re-election. The Schipske mailer shows how deceptive she can be. She takes liberty with facts and uses them to imply something totally out of context from the original.

    For example, she refers to her support for the libraries but I am not aware of her speaking out against a property tax increase when I and Mrs. Kell were the only candidates in the city to do so. Now that this is a safe issue, she takes the popular stand.

    Ms. Schipske has run for office and lost five times. The one office she did hold, she decided not to stand for re-election. I think voters would want to know why she didn't run and why those board members are not supporting her city council race.

    Again, after careful consideration, I have decided to endorse Jackie Kell in the runoff. Even though I was intent upon replacing her on the council, I believe her positions are more compatible with and more accurately reflect the direction in which I think the city should be headed.

    Ms. Schipske good luck in your campaign, but I think the voters want the kind of leadership and experience that Jackie Kell will bring to our district, not deceptive campaign tactics that imply endorsements that do not exist. Don't forget, Gerrie, 75% of all voters voted against you too.

    s/ Ed Barwick

    [May 7 update] Ms. Schipske has sent us an email with the following:

    It should be noted that nowhere in my mailer did I state or imply that Ed Barwick endorsed me. What I stated or actually re-stated was Ed Barwick's clear, undisputed criticism of Jackie Kell during his campaign for City Council..the same criticism that was leveled by all the other candidates, including me, against the termed out incumbent, Jackie Kell.

    I can understand Mr. Barwick's embarrassment at being held to what he stated on his website and on all of his mailers. But he can't have it both ways. Either he said those things about Jackie Kell and they were false..or she said those things about Jackie Kell and they were true....

    [May 8 update] Mr. Barwick responds to Ms. Schipske's comments:

    I am neither embarrassed nor disavowing anything I said during my campaign. I was serious about trying to replace Councilwoman Kell and simply pointed out that no one accomplishes 100% of their objectives during their term in office. Maybe Ms Schipske wants us to think she did not imply an endorsement by me, however, several people I have spoken to about her most recent missive certainly received that impression and thus I felt it necessary to respond. Although I have disagreed with the Vice-Mayor on some issues, I believe she more closely mirrors my stand on issues within this district and the city.

    Finally, like me, I believe all the candidates had their individual reasons for running and all ran strong campaigns. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know all of the candidates during the past few months and wish them all the best in the future. As for me, I endorse the write-in vote for Jackie Kell.

    The saga continues.

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