Apr. 6th, 2007

The Debate

Apr. 6th, 2007 01:01 pm
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The mayoral debate was about what Knox expected. The front-runners - a former councilman named Hamilton Hill, who had the endorsement of Bruce Wayne, and a career machine politician named Armond Krol – spend the night ignoring the other three candidates present and taking turns bashing Mayor Borg. Knox wanted to like Hill, but for all his purported honesty, Hill offered little substance.

It was halfway through the debate when Caroline Curtis finally got to talk for more than ten seconds. She was a former community activist who was Housing Commissioner for five long, unsuccessful years under Borg. And she could speak. Instead of platitudes, there was ideas about reviving a broken economy. And there was passion. She fought her way up from the slums, Knox recalled, and cared about low income housing when no one but Borg and a handful of councilmen could even be bothered.

For the rest of the event, Knox listened to her as he tuned out Hill and Krol. Her words had substance. She didn’t once attack Borg, though she let Krol have it a few times. She had ideas for how to fix Gotham, and was even more ready to accept the Bat than Hill, who was a rather tepid supporter of Gordon’s policy. Sadly, it seemed than no one in the auditorium was listening to her except him and Andy Rodriguez, another community activist running for mayor. Knox wondered if seeing how the city treated Curtis would discourage Rodriguez. He hoped not, but would bet otherwise.

Her closing statement was eloquent and calm and full of hope for a city that had precious little. Knox took down every word. He wondered why she wasn’t the front runner. What is because she was a woman? Maybe? Or because she was African-American? No, Gotham had elected Harvey L. Dent. Maybe black AND a woman was too much. Or maybe she was just too much of an outsider. Hill, despite being a reformer, was as much part of the machine as Krol. She had rejected the machine when she left office.

Knox hurried back home to compose his column.

“There is a candidate for mayor of this hard-bitten city I think you should consider voting for. A veteran politician. A reformer. A woman. Named Caroline Curtis. I doubt you’ve paid attention to her. She can’t afford commercials. She doesn’t have a machine behind her to get out the vote. I would guess some of you don’t know her name at all. Or think that at best, you know her but feel a vote for her is one that Hamilton Hill won’t have.

“ I think you need to know more about Caroline Curtis. And about what she stands for.”

Racing deadline – something that Knox loved with a passion – he submitted the column with ten minutes to spare. A weary Bert Teller vetted it, made some tiny changes, and sent it to composition (but not before suggesting Knox get a home computer, as soon they would be able to handle stories on floppy discs, and faster). Teller’s silence about the topic was nearly a word of approval.

The next morning, Knox read the column four times. It was the best thing he ever wrote. He was sure of it. Just as he was sure that come Election Night, Hamilton Hill would still win, and that Caroline Curtis would still finish out of the running.

Someplace across town, in a small but orderly office, Caroline Curtis read the column, and had her first smile in days. She sent a note to Knox care of the paper, just to say thanks.

And in a grotto under a certain mansion, a tired Bruce Wayne, freshly out of his night clothes and nursing a cup of tea, took note of Knox’s words and promised himself he would make a suggestion to Hill about a possible deputy mayor.

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