Representative Svarzbein has been having a hard time getting is sea legs since being sworn in after he defeated Al Weisenberger in a run-off election earlier this year.
He seems to be so worried about saying something wrong that all of his public statements are a lesson in someone who talks but never says anything. And when he is actually saying something, he appears to be a gaffe-machine.
Case in point, yesterday. It was basically a bad day for Svarzbein. First there's an article in the paper about the budget and a tax increase.
Svarzbein along with Ordaz and Limón voted against increasing the tax rate. Ordaz said she voted against it because the tax increase was higher than it needed to be.
Svarzbein said this:
I did a face palm when I read that in the paper. He didn't have much time to review the budget in detail? Wasn't he participating in the budget process since oh I don't know, June???
He basically said he hasn't had time to do the most important part of his job.
But the day got worse for him. Apparently last night there was some sort of community meeting and a community member approached Svarzbein with a question about why he voted for the City Manager's raise and what he based it on.
The vote was done, and all the reps that voted for it are going to take heat for it. That is a given. But its all in how you deal with that heat. Svarzbein found the worst possible way to deal with the it.
The constituent, a man named Victor Santana-Melgoza, asked him the question and Svarzbein became defensive and dodged the question. Svarzbein told him he had to go and talk to his mother, then mentioned something about his father being ill and walked off. The Santana-Melgoza followed him. Svarzbein had actually gone to speak to a couple of other people. Santana-Melgoza asked him if the woman he was speaking to was his mother.
So Santana-Melgoza took to Facebook and published the video.
Here's the text of his post:
And here is the video.
I don't think I have ever seen an elected official with worse public relation skills. Svarzbein really needs to find a seminar or conference or something on public relations and media management because he is really terrible at it.
It almost painful to watch.
Having been on the other side of the camera I can give all you electeds a little piece of advice. Stop and answer the questions. As long as the person behind the camera is asking you something issue-based or related to the job, there's no reason to avoid them. If they are just being a jerk, thats a whole other story.
The person asking you the question isn't going to look bad, you are. No elected official or candidate looks good running away from a camera. It never works out for them. Stand there, answer their question and wait for your staff to come and bail you out.
You're welcome everyone.