Texas Town Just Came Up With a Very Original Way to Pick a New Mayor

Author and conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. once said “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

His point was that many of our elected officials are highly educated and “smart” but their actual ability to get things done and govern in the interests of America are very low.

You might as well pick strangers from a phone book, was Buckley’s point, because you’re going to end up with higher quality individuals who aren’t compromised by lobbying, personal bias, vested interests and crazy ideas.

Now one Texas town is taking a similar approach. Or at least getting into the spirit of picking a name from a hat.


Welcome to Dickinson, Texas

Dickinson is a suburb of Houston and it’s been on the hunt for a new mayor. There was just one problem: its two leading contenders were tied after a runoff election in December. The city council recounted but it was still an exact tie between Sean Skipworth and his opponent Jennifer Lawrence (not the actress).

Texas law says that in the event of a tie for mayor you can cast lots, but the folks in Dickinson had another idea. They put names on ping pong balls in a mayoral top hat and picked one out.

The winner was Sean Skipworth who said: “I just thank everyone for coming out and voting. Literally, every vote counted.”

A mayor with a sense of humor. Not bad, right?

His opponent Lawrence also said Skipworth’s win is for the best and everyone should come together to throw their support behind him.

“I’ve had dozens and dozens of people praying about this. I told Sean I would support him, and I will, and I think unity is the way to go to get stuff done,” Lawrence said.

Can I get an amen?

More About Dickinson

Dickinson is a suburb in Galvestan County within the Houston metro area about forty miles southeast of downtown. It has a population of about 21,000. The railroad running through Dickinson was used in the US Civil War to mount a successful siege of Galveston by Union troops.

Dickinson’s Oleander Country Club became a top spot for wealthy people from Galveston who wanted to enjoy the good life. The city’s demographics changed quite a bit in the early 1900s when hundreds of Italians moved to the city and in the 1920s the Maceo Crime family started running a lot of things there, especially casinos and places to gamble.

Modern Dickinson is a family-friendly place with the annual Red, White and Bayou Crawfish Festival which ran until 2018 when it was discontinued because of the damages suffered by Hurricane Harvey. Half the city was wrecked in 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit, and 90 percent of Dickinson’s 10 square miles got flooded.

Gazebo, City Park, Dickinson, Texas 1303201227 by Patrick Feller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Appreciating Democracy

As the nation struggles with anger over the last presidential election and controversy surrounding the violence on Capitol Hill, it’s nice to know that at least down in Texas they still know how to do democracy right.

While people in Dickinson likely don’t agree about everything, they have enough unity to trust the process and throw their support behind whoever’s name is on the ping pong ball after the runoff election.

Maybe something like this could be worked out for federal elections in the future, although the problem is that corporate lobbyists would probably come up with a way to monkey with the name selection process or the way the top hat works. There are a lot of magicians in politics, but the tricks they do aren’t usually for the good of the people they serve, unfortunately.

So, thanks Dickinson, for showing us that some Americans are still getting along and enjoying the good life.

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