Tigers roaming the streets of Asheville? It's not an animal-rights demonstration, and the circus isn't in town: It's the top item in the political platform of local blogger/mayoral wannabe Shad Marsh.
The Oakley resident, who writes poetry at his blog site, Nice Marmot, says he's “what they call unemployed.” And from the look of things, Marsh's mayoral campaign will be political theater of the absurd.
In the spirit of new media, the announcement came via Twitter and a Web site listing the candidate's key positions on the issues. That's where the tigers come in. According to the Marsh for Mayor Web site (http://marshformayor.blogspot.com), “Tigers shall have free roam within the city limits.” A primary reason for this, apart from their allegedly positive effect on tourism, is that they are “wicked cool.” The platform also calls for cutting off the hands of litterers, mandatory military service for panhandling “trustafarians,” and something simply called “casual Mondays.”
Safe to say, this is not your run-of-the-mill campaign, and Marsh hasn't gotten all the kinks worked out yet.
“Obviously, the feasibility and technical aspects of having tigers roaming free is going to be difficult,” he concedes. Meanwhile, Marsh says he's facing a more immediate problem: hosting a fundraiser to procure the $75 filing fee.
The potential candidate launched what could be called his feasibility study back in April with a post in the
forums in which he asked flat out whether he should run for mayor. In typical online-forum fashion, the next 170 responses moved quickly from the virtues of squat thrusts to spicy mustard to kitten bowling. In this environment, it's not hard to see how Marsh developed his platform. There was also an exchange with Asheville artist Jen Bowen, who'd previously said she would run for mayor if no serious candidate came forward to challenge incumbent Terry Bellamy (Bowen has since shifted course, announcing a bid for City Council.) All told, says Marsh, the response to his campaign was about 80 percent positive, though he adds that he hasn't checked the forum thread lately.
“I do follow politics, but I don't take it that seriously,” he reports.
Still, Marsh is apparently sufficiently politically involved to have volunteered for fellow blogger Gordon Smith's City Council campaign.
“Shad's an Asheville treasure,” says Smith. “Nothing better could happen in this election season than a good dose of absurdity.”
Marsh doesn't recall how he got started down the political path, though he thinks it may have been a dare by a friend. In any case, he's moving forward in all earnestness, if not in all seriousness.
“I take it seriously,” he says. “But obviously anyone who reads my proposed ideas wouldn't take it seriously.” Then, heeding the politician's need to deliver a good quote, he stops and asks to start over, declaring, “I'm serious in my bid not to be taken seriously.”