The Land That Politics Forgot 

Welcome to Yowza Dave Smith's Newark, where no one votes, no one runs for office, and no one dissents. Has democracy failed? Or has it been perfected?

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In fact, changing the system in Newark is tougher than ever because of a decision Smith and the council made about the city's electoral process. More than a decade ago, they shifted municipal elections from even- to odd-numbered years so they wouldn't overlap with presidential or congressional elections. "Our desire is to have people voting and focusing on local issues and not the president," Smith explained. But the result is fewer people voting in local elections. Indeed, one of the reasons Fremont's turnout is so much higher than Newark is that its elections are in even-numbered years.

This November promises to be different. The city's municipal election will coincide with Governor Schwarzenegger's controversial special election, virtually ensuring a larger turnout. Torrico's open seat also may generate some interest. Nagy plans to run for reelection, and Smith said he probably will, too.

Every other July, before he announces his candidacy, Smith journeys back to the Upper Michigan peninsula for what he says are soul-searching walks along "the shores of Gitche Gumee" (Longfellow's name for Lake Superior in his famous poem "Hiawatha"). Although Smith said he won't make up his mind until he is there in person, at least one of his friends thinks he will be mayor for life. "I think Dave is going to be carried out in a box," said Huezo, who plans to finally retire later this year. "I think Dave will continue to establish records for longevity. Dave Smith is Mr. Newark."

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