We’ve been keenly watching which candidates jump into the race to fill the remainder of Vicki Stack‘s unexpired term on the Lakewood City Council. We wrote before that Dave Ruchman had all but declared, and while we haven’t seen his candidate affidavit pop up anywhere yet, we did notice another familiar name register with the Lakewood City Clerk.
Ramey Johnson, former State Representative and failed 2008 candidate for RTD Board, is jumping into the race to fill Vicki’s seat, and for Ramey, Vicki’s shoes. From Ramey’s recently updated website:
LAKEWOOD – Longtime Lakewood community leader Ramey Johnson today announced her candidacy for the vacant Ward 1 City Council seat, promising to engage more citizens in the public process and present the community’s voice on tough issues.
“I believe in the people of our community,” Ramey said. “I believe we deserve honest communication between City Hall, our residents and business owners. City government must be open, transparent and approachable in order to preserve our shared values.”
The Council seat was left vacant by the recent resignation of Councilwoman Vicki Stack.
Ramey is one of those types of candidates you can’t help but feel bad for, if only because her losing streak far exceeds her winning record. Johnson, you’ll recall, lost to Representative Kelley Daniel in her first bid to represent HD-23 in the State House. Johnson then faced a rematch against Daniel in 2002, winning election by just about 5%. In 2004, Ramey was promptly unseated by Democrat Gwyn Green, losing in a recount by under a hundred votes. Ever persistent, though, Ramey challenged Green once again in 2006, trounced this time by nearly 3,000 votes.
Johnson, never one to let an election slip by, in 2008 ran against Matt Cohen to fill the RTD Director spot in District M. Ramey undoubtedly thought she could win something as low-profile as an RTD spot, particularly without outside sources trying to maintain control of the State House via a competitive district. Ramey thought wrong, of course, and the one-term State Representative lost in that race by over 4,000 votes.
Johnson’s long electoral history can be viewed through a couple of lenses; she’s either a persistent public servant in the image of Lincoln or she just can’t take a hint from the electorate. Either way, she’s running for council to represent her smallest constituency yet, and she’s got a better shot at this seat than she’s had for most others. Ramey is a known quantity in Lakewood; she was a close confidant of Vicki Stack and probably has name ID enough to win a low-profile special election to council. Ramey, by most counts, is a fairly shrewd legislator, and while a variety of circumstances led her to lose time and time again for the better part of the last decade, we see city council as a way for Johnson to get her foot back in the door.
Even better for Johnson, we don’t think her campaign will be opposed by Bob Murphy or other members of council. Where Vicki Stack and Dave Wiechman often times inhibited the forward progress of the council and the City, Ramey has been known to compromise, and she does have a decent amount of experience from her albeit limited time under the Golden dome. Johnson is exactly the kind of lawmaker Murphy and his team would be able to work with, and that might be her greatest asset.
Still, there’s no way to look at Ramey without first noticing her insatiable and seemingly self-serving appetite to be elected to something. Johnson’s decade-long candidacy quickly tosses aside the common wisdom that voters will remember your name from being on a past ballot. If that were true, Ramey should have cruised to election to the RTD board. Voters don’t pay attention to down-ballot races, so they won’t remember your name no matter how often you run and lose.
If Dave Ruchman joins this race, as he’s expected to do, it’ll be an interesting election if only because the two-highest profile candidates are known for losing, and losing, and losing some more. Ruchman and Johnson share a common problem; rather than running for office because they want to serve their neighbors and represent their communities, both seem like they just want to be elected to something. Neither candidate can really make the point that serving on council holds incredible personal importance to them because both have made it incredibly obvious just how voraciously they wish to have a title in front of their name.
The best part about a face-off between Dave Ruchman and Ramey Johnson, then, is that one of them will finally get to break the losing streak.