Usually in a political race a candidate has such a myriad of public appearances that he or she is bound to produce a gaffe or two. If the candidate is even somewhat viable, then the percentage of slip-ups is but a fraction of their body of work.
In the Ouray mayoral race, the opportunities for public buffoonery are few. There are a few candidate open houses, usually attended by friendly crowds, some newspaper profiles and a candidate forum.
You really have to work hard to let a stinker loose with those few opportunities, but mayoral candidate and current Ouray City Councilor Ethan Funk let one fly.
It was awkward at best, slightly libidinous and, dare I say, oily?
If there was a serious #metoo movement in Ouray, there might be questions raised as to why he chose to characterize his candidacy as a “speed dating” episode, and himself as a “safe date.”
So odd, I thought I’d share some of the transcript, which was the basis of a bizarre analogy for his opening remarks at the 2021 Candidates’ Forum, hosted by the Woman’s Club of Ouray County on Oct. 14. The remarks were definitely ... planned?
Indeed. They were.
Before I get into what Mr. Funk said, in the vein of equal time and fairness and all, here’s how Mayor Greg Nelson began his opening remarks:
“Two years ago I ran for mayor,” Nelson said, “because I love my community and saw the need for change, the need for visionary leadership, fiscal responsibility, strategic planning and strategic thinking. Our community agreed by voting out the old and voting in the new. In the last two years this council has achieved so much, in spite of what you’ve heard here before, and in spite of a pandemic and not having a city administrator for almost a year.”
Nelson went on the cite specific accomplishments.
A cogent, prepared statement.
Then it was on to the challenger.
“My name is Ethan Funk,” the candidate began, “I’m 49 years old. I am a Cancer. I’ve never been married.”
None of those three, mind you, are qualifiers for running for mayor.
“I don’t like vegetables, except for garlic and onions,” Funk continued, “I really like garlic and onions. I like police procedural programs and documentaries.”
If that wasn’t endearing enough, he added that he is “really looking forward to warm evenings using the wood stove, winter’s kind of a nice snuggle time period.”
Then, he got down to business.
“In all seriousness,” he said, “aside from all the straight dating thing ...”
This is where he abandoned the dating analogy, right?
Nope. He doubled down.
“This actually is kind of like speed dating,” Funk declared, as the single ladies in the crowd swooned.
“What we’re actually pitching to you is a candidate that is actually going to represent you,” he said, not declaring if this date will be his treat or Dutch, “someone who’s going to represent you much like you choose a mate or someone you want to start a relationship with.”
I’m thinking I’d go Dutch at this point.
“There has to be a level of trust,” he said. “There has to be knowledge that you’re not going be gas-lit.”
Funk went on to say he respects everyone and added, “I am a safe person to date.”
Ever been on a first date, and your partner has spinach in his or her teeth?
My apologies for continuing the dating analogy, if that’s what this was, but Mr. Funk had a figurative green blob between his incisor and canine the rest of the forum.
And if this is how he performs, given time to prepare, imagine two years of vegetable-stained leadership with him at the helm. Actually, that’s a poor analogy.
He doesn’t much care for vegetables.
The president of the Ouray Chamber Resort Association sent out a curious email recently, admonishing current Mayor Greg Nelson while espousing the association’s accomplishments?
Two unrelated topics intertwined in a political email?
Bill Hall wrote: “While I am not speaking for OCRA as a whole I will say that I will not have any dealings with Greg Nelson.”
Was he speaking for OCRA in part?
As a nonprofit, Mr. Hall should be careful when he wades into political theater, especially using the official email address for OCRA. And even though the organization is the type of nonprofit that can legally engage in political affairs as long as it’s not its primary activity, does it want to weigh in at all
“When OCRA and the City of Ouray parted ways over a year ago,” he continued, “I personally tried to mend the issues between us.”
OCRA, you see, lost a bid to continue to be the contract agent to market Ouray and spend city tax money. The bid was lost not because of Nelson, but via vote by the Ouray City Council.
And as Mr. Hall tiptoes on the political edges with his words in this email that his views on Nelson are purely personal — and derived from unsubstantiated claims, I might add — it’s obvious to all that Nelson is currently in a re-election bid for mayor.
Still, Hall continued as if it were personal. “The way he dealt with me personally is the way he deals with other people. Therefore I will never work with someone who treats other people the way he does.”
He, as president of OCRA, or he, personally?
Hall goes on to say that OCRA is doing just fine, and lists several accomplishments for the non-profit. The city, too, is doing well.
So, what’s the point of this nebulous email?
Is this a political endorsement by the nonprofit’s president?
He doesn’t come right out and say vote for so-and-so.
He just says that he doesn’t like Nelson.
I bet he’d go on a date with Funk, though.
Alan Todd is a 35-year newspaper veteran who lives in Ouray County. He can be reached at email@example.com.