To win against Domogan, one must not only get all the opposition votes, he must also get a substantial number off of the incumbent numbers. In the last election, after several landslide loses, Molintas got to close the gap - from the usual 20,000 vote-margin down to just around 4,000.
In 2013, Mauricio Domogan garnered 49.5% of the total votes cast for Mayor, he almost won by majority vote while Molintas got 44.7%. The rest was split between Jun Labo (3,000+) and perennial contender Hernandez along with Puzon and Mina who got negligible numbers.
49.5 percent. That's a big number, and getting a huge slice of that would be the holy grail for the opposition. It's actually a 4-cornered fight, but given Hernandez's dismal showing in 2013 (666 votes), maybe his candidacy would hardly matter in the end.
My two centavos' worth, based on what I see, hear, feel and their respective performances in the candidates' forum held last month at the Baguio Convention Center :
DOMOGAN, The Incumbent
He's been trumpeting the city's increased revenue over the last over two decades with him at the helm in one way or another - from below 500M to 2B. Of course he won't mention that it stayed at half a billion for 15 years or so before making that huge leap to a billion in .ca. 2008. But never mind that, fact is, Baguio's economy is on the up, and for those directly benefiting from the boom, a promise of continuity will be attractive.
But at what cost, that so-called boom? The environment under Domogan's reign hardly got any attention. It seemed like when it came to a choice between commerce and environmental sustainability, his administration seemed to have always favored the former. The direction in which he took this city is dangerously unsustainable. When the Mt. Sto. Tomas issue erupted, I don't recall any strong words from him about the damage that his congressman wreaked on a forest reserve, compromising the water supply of thousands of citizens. Instead, what I remember most is his hands-off remarks, and how sure he was that Aliping will able to explain and defend himself in the "proper forum."
He has shown very little regard for the city's heritage too with the fencing of City Hall and his stubborn stand to turn the Melvin Jones into a concrete parking facility.
Yet, the fact remains, he got 49.5% of the votes the last time, and he will remain as the choice of the apathetic and the shortsighted.
MOLINTAS, closer and closer then...
...Claravall finally threw his hat in the ring. In 2013, if we were to tally all the non-Domogan votes, that would have been 50.5%. Never mind Hernandez's 666, but the rest would have been enough to unseat Domogan. This time. Molintas would have just needed to step up his previous efforts to IP a bit to close the gap, but currently, the opposition votes are now divided between him and Claravall.
From where I was sitting, he did very well in that forum, I must admit.
CLARAVALL, the dark horse
I have been eagerly waiting for what the former judge will put on the table since he filed his candidacy last year. I must say that I went to that candidates' forum last February specifically to hear his voice, and frankly, I was not satisfied. He kept to making motherhood statements hardly backing up his answers with facts and a clear vision on how to get it done. When asked about certain problems that Baguio is faced with today, his answers mostly focused on why they should be solved and not much on how he intends to solve them.
I said, well, cut him some slack - it was his first salvo in front of a large audience. Perhaps he was nervous, rattled, etc. Although a friend pointed out, and quite rightly so, that for someone who's presided over countless cases in his sala, handing down decisions with a bang of a gavel in front of an audience - public speaking should be a walk in the park.
His battle cry - "Bangon, Baguio, Bangon!" This will definitely strike a chord among the concerned, the citizens who care about the city beyond their fenced and gated homes. But to those who are just happy to be in a secure job or see their businesses grow, those who only see the opportunities that Baguio has to offer today, those who equate condominiums, hotels, overpriced donuts and coffee as a sign of progress, the question may be, "bakit kailangang bumangon kung hindi naman nakatumba ang Baguio?"
But, Claravall seem to come across as a breath of fresh air, that's something Baguio needs right now. Couple that with a more solid platform and game plan, and he's golden.
IN THE END, politics is numbers
Addition, addition, addition, as Rey Bautista Sr. used to emphasize during his son, Peter Rey's campaigns. Everything you do must be aimed at adding to your numbers. Domogan's promise of continuity may not add to his current numbers, but it will keep the contented citizens on his side.
Molintas will most likely lose some of his votes to newcomer Claravall, the key for him is to work hard to keep that loss to a minimum, and hope that Claravall will bite significantly into Domogan's share of the electoral pie.
As for Claravall, he must be able to convince the unsatisfied that he is the right man who can turn things around in Baguio. He needs a big slice off of Molintas' 39,000+ votes and some of Domogan's 44k. As for my one vote, I need more how's because I already know the why's.
If it's going to be a tight race, 34%, or 29,697 is what's needed to bag the Mayoralty race, leaving 66 percent which hopefully will be divided equally among the other two opponents.
Hernandez's 666 votes may matter, after all.
And my 1 vote goes to... hmmm, perhaps I'll wait a while longer.