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Groves mayor candidate quits before she starts

Suzanne Williamson’s bizarre exit from the Groves mayoral runoff election this week shows she lacked necessary commitment in seeking that important office and betrayed the interests and best intentions of her 1,813 supporters.

The political novice withdrew from the runoff campaign with a meandering Facebook post made Monday night, suggesting entrenched Mayor Brad Bailey’s razor-thin lead achieved on Nov. 6 —still shy of the 50 percent needed to win — and the less-than-robust turnout of 40 percent in her city suggests residents did not want the reform she had promised as a public candidate.

She also made the peculiar claim in announcing her withdrawal that her close second-place finish in the first voting go-around represented “a win for me in my book as someone who is not a lifelong resident and who has no political experience.”

But her “book” finished a full chapter shy of conclusion, before the runoff election that would have pitted her against Bailey and may have made her mayor. That was no “win”; that was a surrender.

If anyone should have been dismayed by the Nov. 6 results, it should have been Bailey. After 18 years of service, he could no longer muster a majority among voters.

Williamson offered a lot in her campaign messages: fresh eyes on Groves’ development, commitment to improving the drainage system, financial transparency, more vigorous pursuit of business.

Most appealing was her stated commitment to bridging the apparent divide on the City Council. For the better part of a year, Groves’ government has operated under the lingering, self-inflicted funk of a mean-spirited effort to drive a gay teenager out of public office. If that was the city leadership’s chief quest for 2018, well, congrats to them; they achieved it. But Groves people may have wanted more.

“I would model the behavior that I expect, promote communication, promote the goal and entire reason we are on council, which is to better Groves,” she wrote in response to our questions about her campaign. “All impactful leaders know that they must be the change they want to see. Everything rises and falls with leadership.”

Sadly, Williamson’s campaign fell from a lack of leadership — her own. In assessing her possibilities for successful leadership over the past week, she said, she concluded that because an apparent, progressive bloc of City Council members did not immediately form on the morning of Nov. 7, she could not succeed. No one said it would be easy.

Nor is politics a team sport: Voters choose the candidates they do — many chose her — by their own volition. As mayor, it would have been her job to form the coalitions within the council membership that would have made success possible. That’s what leaders do. Instead, she quit before she started.