The Whatcom County Executive race is very interesting. Whatever opinion you may have about the past performance of Pete Kremen no longer matters. It is a horse race and no one knows the outcome. Good times for political junkies and commentators, right?
But voters are going to be challenged to sort through the offerings. There appear to be two huge issues, the environmental impact of the Gateway Terminal operations (say coal train if you wish) and jobs. Will maintaining our quality of life win, or will rebuilding our depleted economy win? Underlying these issues is an ideological debate as well, conservative values versus liberal values. And if that doesn't add to our present divisiveness, then let's add urban versus rural interests to the mix.
I think ultimately we are going to have to come up with a well engineered solution, both politically and technically. I don't know what that looks like myself, but I'm going to vote for the person who appears to have the balanced perspective, experience, and wisdom to offer that well engineered solution. Ideological palaver needs to be set aside. Unfortunately, I expect we will see a lot of that palaver, if not from the candidates, then from other sources. And I'm not minimizing the severity or importance of the environmental issues or the economic ones. It is just that no one group or special interest has enough clout to subdue the other, hence expect pitched emotional battles. And I say this knowing that local elected officials and we citizens have no outright vote on the Terminal. We are and will continue to be challenged to bring about the best solution without benefit of the ballot box. As such, we need leaders who can lead based on their ability to articulate and influence ideas, policies, and decisions without their "normal" tools.
We are very fortunate to have four quality thoroughbreds in this race. I hope there are many opportunities to hear their ideas and for voters to ask them questions. We need an active media, active volunteers to put on debates, and a willingness of the candidates to debate each other. My hopes may be higher than my expectations at this point, but I will look askance at candidates who run from the challenge of exchanging ideas in public.
To be honest, I do have a favorite, Tom Anderson. What I said about debates still goes, especially for the benefit of undecided voters. But I like the cut of the man. Tom has a wealth of experience managing complex government and business issues from his 16-year stint as a public utilities district director. He is also way ahead on the future prospects and problems of energy supply for our region. Most important to me, he is known for his integrity and willingness to work with people who are on different sides of issues. I think Tom will stand tall and he's my man.
So the gates are open. They are off and running! May the best one win.