Who Is James Lauer?
Columnist Amber Woods takes an offbeat look at City Council candidate James Lauer.
I have to admit, I never thought I would use the names of rapper Eminem and former Aberdeen Mayor S. Fred Simmons in the same column.
But as the Havre de Grace election quickly rounds the corner, alas, that day has come.
If you follow pop culture, maybe you remember when Eminem famously uttered the lyrics, "Would the real Slim Shady please stand up?"
And if you've lived in Harford County for some time, you probably also remember when Simmons (during his first campaign for mayor of Aberdeen) ran an Atlas Shrugged-inspired campaign, twisting the novel's famous quip to "Who is Fred Simmons?" and plastering it on signage and stringing it along behind airplanes on banners.
We have searched for one seemingly invisible candidate for this election, and I'm starting to ask a few questions to which both Eminem and Simmons can probably relate:
Who is James Lauer?
Would the real James Lauer please stand up?
It's probably just my insatiable curiosity at work once again, but it's killing me. I have questions. Who is this mystery man? Does anyone know Mr. Lauer? Is this some kind of sick joke for journalists?
If you haven't heard much about him here on Patch, it's because we don't know much about him.
But not for lack of trying.
What we do know is that he filed to run for a seat on the city council and then vanished into the cool night air (OK, I don't actually know if it was night, but a little writer's embellishment never hurt anyone).
Patch editor Sean Welsh has tried several tactics in tracking down Lauer for our election coverage, as we wanted to see him included in candidate interviews, and upcoming debates and forums, but we can't find the guy, or anyone who can send us in the right direction.
Sean thinks this is simply a new-age campaign tactic—the mystery man plan. Make people ask who you are, and you won't have to shell out money on signage or advertising.
We have called Lauer's home number—as provided when he filed to run—only to be met by the voice of a woman who says he isn't home. She also doesn't seem to know he's a candidate for city council.
According to the millions of mice who run the wheels that power the online phone directory search engines, Lauer is a 50-something man who lives in Bulle Rock.
So let's give him the benefit of the doubt: Maybe he forgot.
I admit to having occasionally forgotten my laundry at the dry cleaner, or every once in a while even forgetting which day my bills are due, but is it really possible to forget you're running for election?
I mean, you'd think he'd drive by someone else's campaign sign on his way to work or the grocery store and it might jog a memory.
Rumor has it Lauer may have pursued a new business venture that wouldn't give him the time for his potential seat on council—yet the folks who've heard that theory don't even know what he does for a living.
Other candidates for mayor and council have reportedly seen him one time in a public forum. Councilman Randy Craig said he had a brief conversation with Lauer once.
But that's the extent of anyone's interaction with him, at least that I know of.
Is he new to the area and can't find directions to City Hall? Someone please lend the man a map.
What made Lauer decide to file in the first place? Maybe he lost a bet?
Another theory I've heard: He dropped out of the race and failed to mention it to anyone. But come on, a return phone call to let us know would have been nice.
Maybe (and let's hope not) Lauer has a sick family member and his priorities have been rearranged. Let's face it, we all have those moments in our lives. Sometimes the important things to others simply aren't your own priorities.
After hitting dead end after dead end on my quest to find out more about our mystery candidate, I tried the old "put yourself in their shoes" tactic and thought about the one thing that would cause me to completely vanish from the city council race after filing.
Aha! He won the lottery.
Our boy Jimmy is probably in Mexico somewhere lying on a beach, margarita in one hand and Corona in the other. He's got tan lines for miles and doesn't even remember where Havre de Grace is. And that woman who answers his phone? That's the nanny he hired to watch after his houseplants. She's watering them with Cristal.
If that's the case, hell, we can forgive him. We forgive you, Jim!
Of course, just when I settled on that notion, former Council President Steve Gamatoria came to mind. You know, Steve and his father won the Maryland Lottery almost two decades ago, and even after that, chose a career in public service on the city council. (If you're reading this, thanks for ruining my only theory, Steve).
So here I am, back at square one. Staring at a candidate registration sheet wondering if James Lauer prefers to be called Jim. Or Jimmy. Or Jim-Dog.
Is ol' Jim even a real person?
I guess we'll find out soon enough. I imagine Lauer will fly back from whatever beach he's on May 3, if nothing else, at least to vote for himself.