Local Political Campaigns are ImportantIf you turn on the radio or watch television or just drive down a city street, you cannot escape electioneering. Now that primary ballots have been mailed, candidates and campaigns are busy everywhere asking for your vote. Politics in in the air and on the airwaves. Never has it been so important to so many people as this year. In other states there have been record turnouts for primary elections. This year California finally gets a say, since some candidates need more votes to clinch their nominations. I hope that will also bring people out to vote in local elections.
|Setting Up for John Peschong Meet and Greet in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic|
None of the candidates competing at the top of the tickets would be there had they not started at the local or state level -- with one exception. Even that one exception was involved in the political process, donating to campaigns to try to influence elections and getting to know the people who made political decisions. That, too, is most effective at the local level where one can actually get to speak to candidates and ask questions. That's why there are many "meet and greets," like the one I attended for John Peschong recently.
Whom you elect to local offices is just as important as whom you elect to Congress or the Presidency. Make candidates give you a good reason to vote for them. Having the most signs visible around town does not mean a candidate is the most qualified person for the office. Being a nice guy or gal doesn't mean someone is qualified to help run your life, either. Most people running for office seem like nice people. That sometimes means they will try to be all things to all people or go with the flow instead of standing for what is wise and just.
Instead of looking just at personality or experience in a bureaucracy (commission, etc.), look closely at the decisions a planning commissioner, for example, has made and how they may have affected your life. Pay attention. Is this a person you would want spending your money? Is this a person you trust to do what's in your best interests. Will this person respect your property rights? Your water rights? Your First and Second Amendment rights? Look at the record and see if it matches campaign promises. That's not hard to do at the local level.
|The Salinas River is a Water Source in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic|
To be an informed voter who will make a positive difference in your community, you should attend at least three meetings of your city council and your county Board of Supervisors when hot topics (burdensome ordinances, water rights, new regulations) are being decided. Watch how your current elected officials behave while in office. Are they insulting other board members or bullying to try to pass unpopular regulations? Does the chair respect those who are speaking for or against a matter on the agenda? Does the chair hush an applauding audience he or she disagrees with or limit speaking time when it's evident those in the audience will not be supporting his or her own positions?
If you can't go, watch the meetings on television or listen to them on the radio. (In North San Luis Obispo County you can listen to city council meetings on KPRL, 1230. You can also hear candidates for public office being interviewed or discussions on hot local topics between 12:40 and 2 pm weekdays on the same station.) Body language will often let you know what an official is really thinking. Facial expression will show a condescending attitude toward a speaker.
|Board of Supervisors Meeting for San Luis Obispo County, © B. Radisavljevic|
Above you see a meeting of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. What happens in this room affects your life in a big way. There are five supervisors -- one for each district. You only get to vote for yours. You can, however, financially support and campaign for the others.
Why would you do that? Because they all vote on the decisions that affect your life and they also sit on other boards, like the Air Pollution Control District, Planning and Building, LAFCO, and many more. City Council Members also sit on these boards, as do board members of the Community Service Districts. These various boards decided the plastic bag ban by one vote, and the one that cast that vote knew it was not what his district wanted.
It was the Board of Supervisors that listened to the pleas for "regulatory support" from a company that did energy audits and voted to pass a regulation that requires all county homeowners to get an energy audit before they can sell a home. Those audits aren't cheap, and although you don't have to follow all the recommendations before selling, you do have to share the report with a buyer. I was there. Most of those speaking on the issue were against the regulation, but the two supervisors who never saw a regulation they didn't like voted for it, along with an unelected appointee who was filling the chair of a deceased member who would not have voted for it.
The county supervisors will affect your life -- not just your own supervisor , but the other four, as well. All the candidates for my First District are nice people. I've met them all and I've seen them in action. But I only know of one I believe will spend my tax money wisely and respect my property and water rights. That would be John Peschong. I've watch the others on the Paso Robles City Council and in other settings. That's why John Peschong is getting my vote.
|John Peschong and Lynn Compton at Meet and Greet, © B. Radisavljevic|
Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton also represent my views on the BOS, even though I can't vote for them. Lynn isn't running this time, but I'm supporting Debbie because she is looking out for the interests of tax payers and property owners and votes against regulations that reek of cronyism.
Those on the Board of Supervisors often go on to run for higher office. Katcho Achadjian was on the board and then ran for the 35th Assembly District. He says in his ads that he won't go along to get along, but he is responsible for authoring a bill to form a water district that would have violated the water rights of rural landowners in the Paso Robles Water Basin.
Fortunately, due to the diligent efforts of Cindy Steinbeck in educating people who were affected, the voters defeated the formation of that district -- a district that would have provided no new water sources. Instead, it would have forced rural landowners to meter their wells, which they paid for and have to maintain, to let someone else control the water which they have rights to by law, and to pay an extra fee for someone to manage it. There's no way I will vote to send Katcho, the establishment candidate, to Congress. I believe he will go along to get along. He has in the past.
I don't know Justin Fareed. He was an establishment candidate for this seat in 2014 and lost to Lois Capps. Katcho endorsed him then. Some people I respect support him. I still have not made up my mind between him and Matt Kokkonen. If you have a strong preference, convince me in the comments.
Lastly, we need to fill the new seat in the 35th Assembly District that Katcho is vacating. I will be voting for Jordan Cunningham. I have known his family for years and I agree with his positions. He is the kind of young man I would like to see move up the political ladder some day if he stays committed to the principles he's running on, once he gets to Sacramento, and if he stands up to those in his own party who will try to control him.
When I vote for local officials, I'm thinking far ahead. The local candidates who get my vote are the ones I believe will earn their right to go higher up the political ladder by demonstrating what they stand for at the local level and representing those who voted for them -- not just big donors. I will vote, and then I will watch what happens when they are in office. You should do the same. It's not what happens during campaigns that really counts. It's what happens between campaigns when the winners are in office. Keep an eye on them.