Commonwealth Journal

August 15, 2013

Mystery candidate eyes Somerset mayoral race

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

A mystery candidate for mayor of Somerset is adding a mystical tinge to the upcoming political season.
The peculiar situation is a much-talked-about mayoral candidate whose name has not been revealed. Normally, a candidate for public office strives for name recognition but this one is shrouded in anonymity.
Here it is, a little less than three months before the start of filing for the 2014 local election cycle, and talk on the street is that a “strong” candidate will try to unseat Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
Girdler has said he definitely will seek a third term. Veteran Somerset City Coun-cilor Jim Rutherford, a retired Somerset police lieutenant, has hinted strongly he will run for mayor.
That’s it, so far as names go. At least, names we know about.
The mystery candidate apparently has backing of some members of Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU), a group of about 140 movers and shakers who are supporting a study to determine feasibility of a united city-county government in Pulaski County. It is no secret Mayor Girdler’s potent rejection of this idea has raised the ire of many SPCU members.
There is a lot of talk among SPCU members about a “strong” mayoral candidate who can sweep Girdler out of office. One or two have said privately they know the identity of the mystery candidate but their jaws are locked.
A few clues have unearthed:
• The “strong” candidate is young.
• He (a masculine pronoun) is adept at using social media.
• The potential candidate heads a company that hires about 100 workers.
• A veteran local political reporter would hardly recognize the candidate’s name.
People willing to discuss a candidate to oppose Mayor Girdler concede the mayor will be tough to beat. Girdler is already talking about lowering or eliminating property taxes in the city. And the possibility of lowering natural gas rates to city customers, as the city did prior to the 2010 elections, certainly won’t cost him any votes.