Elections are about choice.

Except when there isn't one.

Like the Rochester mayor's race. The polls will open, but what difference will it make?

Beyond determining which snouts will be in the patronage trough -- which campaign coffers the engineers and developers will fill, whose friends and cousins will get jobs, which faction can piss on the other -- it means nothing.

Ineffective, inept leadership is the case now, and it will be the case a year from now.

The candidates are the imperious incumbent, the bright shining extremist, and the invisible man. The winner will face the token Republican.

And the city will continue the long downward spiral of this generation.

Elections are about choice, but without choice, the right to vote is nothing but a pacifier. Which is why voter turnout is low in New York, and even lower in Rochester.

Everyone knows it's meaningless, so why pretend?

A month before the decisive Democratic primary, the candidates have been played by a promoter's plan for a playhouse. In a city with failed schools, deadly streets and no jobs, the mayor has been tricked into making the issue a Broadway theater which none of her core constituents will ever attend or get a job in. A meaningless rectangle of empty downtown has become the center of attention while neighborhoods in every direction suffer and are ignored.

A 25-year-old pipe dream has become the surrogate war of the campaign. The mayor is for it and everybody who opposes the mayor is against it.

And the ridiculousness hardens into the status quo as the mayor of one of the poorest and most dysfunctional cities in America prattles on about Rochester becoming New York's "art city," and claims she is the victim of bigotry when someone suggests the view is "naive."

And to seal the deal on the "art city" designation, she and her staff declare open war on the leaders of arts organizations who have the audacity to express a view contrary to hers -- on something they understand and she doesn't.

And the alternatives for voters?

A clearly intelligent and articulate rival who repeatedly devolves into the absurdity of the most extreme corners of the progressive movement, and a former police chief who may not even have a pulse. His lone claim to electoral relevancy is that he has the support of a coffee klatch of city Democrats who were important 20 years ago.

Go ahead, pick one. And don't forget to give your sticker to Susan B. 

It's a field of candidates not worthy of the office or of their neighbors' consideration. At least not the way they're acting now. 

The mayor needs to understand you don't ease disagreement by spitting in people's faces, the Bolshevik needs to come down out of the clouds, and the other guy needs to stop pining for his old Live PD gig. This race is about serving wonderful people in a beloved city, it is about putting others before self, it is about giving voters a plan and a choice for the future.

Thus far it has not been that.

Thus far it has been a clown circus.

Without the smiles.

It's time for the candidates to pull their heads out of their backsides. It's time to get serious. It's time to close the sale. It's time to give people a reason to vote -- and hope.