Trying to get Gwendolyn Davis Kennedy to provide a rationale for her Richland County Council candidacy was like pulling teeth. She basically could not provide any good reason why voters should elect her back to the body she left under a cloud a decade ago.
Ms. Kennedy is best remembered for a taxpayer-funded junket she and another council member took to Hawaii. And that’s about it, really. To get further details, I had to search the database, and came up with this editorial from our editions of Dec. 8, 1997:
We should have known Richland County Councilwoman Gwendolyn Davis Kennedy wouldn’t leave quietly after her failed re-election bid.
At her last regular meeting, Mrs. Kennedy and three of her children were up for appointments to county boards or commissions. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. This is the same councilwoman who took a $3,000 jaunt to Hawaii on county money to a conference for Western counties only to return with nothing constructive to share. Then, faced with a runoff bid she wouldn’t win, she had a change of heart and admitted the trip wasn’t a good idea.
Mrs. Kennedy obviously is intent on having a lasting impact on Richland County by getting family members appointed to boards. Sadly, other council members didn’t see the folly in it all and appointed two of Mrs. Kennedy’s daughters to positions. Kim Kennedy and Fay Kennedy were appointed to the Music Festival Commission and the Building Board of Adjustment, respectively.
The lame duck council, four of whom are on their way out, might have selected Mrs. Kennedy and her son, a Richland County sheriff’s deputy, to a position had the two not withdrawn their nominations after they were challenged. Mrs. Kennedy had applied for a spot on the county Planning Commission and her son, Theodore Kennedy Jr., had applied for a position on the Building Board of Adjustment.
This was an obvious attempt by Mrs. Kennedy to try to stack county boards with herself and her family members as she leaves the council. Council members should have known better and left all of these appointments to the next council.
Shame on them all. It’s these sort of shenanigans that have residents angry over the way the county is operated. The new Richland County Council, the membership of which will be completed in tomorrow’s election, can’t be seated soon enough.
The good news is that the new council was somewhat better. No trips to Hawaii, anyway.
But the truth is that bad candidacies are frequently marked by the lack of good qualities as much as bad ones. And the things that strikes me as I review video of our interview back in April with Ms. Kennedy is her utter inability to articulate why anyone should support her.
Please excuse the length of the above interview. I just included a lot of unedited footage (except for transitions between my camera’s three-minute-maximum clips) so you could see — if you were patient enough — just how far you can go in giving a person every possible opportunity, without that person rising to it. It’s tedious, but telling. In fact, some of you who are accustomed to the contrived theater of TV interviews will wonder, "Why were you so patient and easygoing with this woman?" The answer is that, contrary to what many of you believe, we really do try to go the extra mile to allow candidates a chance to make their case in their own way — particularly the candidates who come in with apparently little chance of gaining our endorsement. Some candidates make the most of the opportunity, and are impressive — an example of that would be Sheri Few, who didn’t think we would endorse her but to her credit wasn’t about to make that decision easy on us. Ms. Kennedy made the decision very, very easy.
Unfortunately, Ms. Kennedy managed to squeeze past a couple of more attractive candidates to make it into a runoff next week. One nice thing about runoffs — it gives me time to present you with more info about the candidates that I was able to do during the crowded initial vote.
If you don’t have the patience to make it through the long video above, here’s a shorter and more interesting one. After having given her every opportunity to deal with her checkered past — a simple, "I did wrong when I was in office before, and have learned my lesson" would have been good — we finally had to confront her (politely, of course, that being Warren’s style) about the incident that lost her the position on council.
Basically, once she was specifically asked about "The Trip," she tried lamely to deflect. She tried to allege that the controversy was over her husband going, and that wasn’t at taxpayer expense. She noted that she’s been to Hawaii a number of times, and only once at taxpayer expense — as though that established anything other than the fact that she likes Hawaii. She tries to make us believe that she believes that if elected, we would falsely report that the European trip she’s saving up for was on the taxpaper’s dime.
But what am I doing describing it? Just watch the video.