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Wed, May 20, 2009, 10:12 am  //  g.h.kirsch

"... blah, blah, blah, blah ..."

In the early days of the nation, back in 1789 at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, a woman approached Ben Franklin and asked, "So what will we have Doctor Frankiln, a monarchy or a republic?"

To which Franklin insightfully replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

The question remains today. Are we up to governing ourselves?

We needn't look at the terrible shape our national government has taken to be seized by despair.

Unheralded, now for several days, finally Dan McShane predictably announced he intends to sit on the county council again. Missing was the hoped for cry of "Draft!"

Apparently our local paper doesn't classify such information as newsworthy. And they are probably right.

Not too long ago the Herald's editorial board made a cogent plea for "new blood" in local government. But instead we will apparently be presented a bunch of old faces in some game of musical chairs.

We'll have Laurie Caskey-Schreiber (already 8yrs in office) seeking Seth Fleetwoods position. While Seth attempts to move into Louise (finally retiring after decades) Bjornson's city slot. And of course Dan (already 8yrs in office) back from the grave, attempting the Lazarus thing to restart his campaign for full time government employment.

What's wrong with this picture? It appears that in all the county races there's a likelihood that every candidate could run unopposed. Well you won't get "new blood" out of that turnip cart!

If we are to "keep it" and fulfill the democratic aspirations that came out of the Age of Reason, we need to do better than this.

Why are there no electable alternatives to these old faces? Has the system become so corrupted and taken under the control of a few partisans that their grip on local government can't be broken?

Surely there is nothing so outstanding about the performance of these incumbents to give them a lock on an election.

Aside from the fact they have given the community their time and service, few if any of our problems have been solved. And they have put forward few if any proposals that might.

So who will accept the call of duty and put a new face on county government?

Tip Johnson  //  Wed, May 20, 2009, 11:32 am

Go for it, Greg! Running for office is far and away the best way to get a piece of the community’s mind, insight into the nuts and bolts of the issues and a good sense of what it takes to be effective in a (democratic) republic. Think of the things you could accomplish on the County Council.  It’s not too late to put your money where your mouth is and file for office!

On a bright note, there are four challengers to the two Port Commission seats up for election this August.  The two top candidates for both seats will proceed to the general election in November.

I cannot imagine a more efficient way to take Whatcom County forward than to oust the two long-term incumbent commission curmudgeons in the August primary. I can’t think of a single better way to improve government or protect taxpayers of Whatcom County.

So there is not a wholesale deficit of candidates.  They will generally emerge when issues reach crisis proportions.  A lack of challengers for county seats just means that most folks aren’t as unhappy with their performance as you are.  That’s exactly why you should be considering filing, Greg.

The real problem is the difficulty challengers have unseating incumbents. The incredible shrinking Herald will be even less equipped to address the issues than they ever didn’t. Our local radio monopoly will, as with all corporate media, hew to the status quo. But perhaps Port issues have finally hit the front burner.  Lord knows they have been simmering on the back burner long enough.

For instance, the last batch of commissioners got so old they had to retire, having served for more than three decades!  That’s too long.  The commissioners up for election this August are already pushing half of that term. That’s too long, too.

So folks, lets get busy and repair the Port before they bury all the toxins, sell off our waterfront, wreck downtown, foreclose on opportunities for good paying jobs and saddle taxpayers with an interminable bill for their waterfront real estate pipe dream.  Un-elect two incumbent commissioners this August and save the waterfront from disaster. Voters will save a lot of campaign contribution money by doing it in the August primary.

Craig Mayberry  //  Thu, May 21, 2009, 1:12 am

This situation is one of the reasons I strongly advocate public campaign financing.  The task of running for office is daunting, especially when having to take on established candidates.  At least if it were a fair financial fight it would be worthwhile for more to attempt to run for office.  The worst part of campaigning is raising money, especially if you do not have the established networks that incumbents, and public campaign financing allows candidates to focus on voters and not special interests and fund raising.

Sharon Crozier  //  Thu, May 21, 2009, 11:40 am

What would make anyone think that many people haven’t approached Dan McShane? What does a “draft” have to look like for you?

And how does a cartoon of a presumed potential candidate going “blah blah blah” encourage new blood? It more likely warns that, should their hats be thrown into the ring, the bloodthirsty will jump all over them.

We should thank Dan for caring enough to go through all the crap that running for office presents. Dan—along with Laurie—did more for the environment than anyone before or since. Scary stuff, eh?

Tip Johnson  //  Thu, May 21, 2009, 3:35 pm

Sharon is absolutely correct.  Thanks, Dan!

Robert Ashworth  //  Sat, May 30, 2009, 3:46 am

Ken Mann would be a new face on county council even though his face has been seen before on (I think) county planning commission. 

I remember meeting Ken, only once a few years back.  It was at an event called “Bike With Your Politician” sponsored by (I think) Mount Baker Bicycle Club. 

It’s an event held in May each year where local politicians, those running for office and the general public are invited to attend a bike ride through Bellingham.  A good way to see the street system from a bicyclist’s perspective.  Something very useful for politicians.  Barbara Brenner, currently on County Council, and a few other politicians have come along on that ride in years past.

It’s something more politicians could benefit from.

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