By Christopher Hodgkin, San Juan Island
When “We the People” of San Juan County adopted a Home Rule charter, we made a clear statement that we wanted our elected officials to be nonpartisan.
Period. No ifs, no ands, no buts.
Given the extreme hostility and gridlock which partisan politics has imposed on both the state and the national legislatures, our decision seems particularly wise and even prescient. We the people did a good thing there.
But not every candidate for commissioner this year agrees with the decision of the people. Several have not only accepted, but promote, partisan endorsement by a political party. Some of their supporters argue that this is meaningless and unimportant. I’m not so sure.
First, it expresses not only a disdain but an actual contempt for the clearly stated will of the voters. One has to wonder, if they are so dismissive of the clearly expressed will of the people in this matter, in what other matters will they also place the interests of party above those of the people?
Second, once a candidate has openly and publicly allied themselves with only one political party platform, how can they legitimately claim, and expect the public to believe, that they are truly interested in representing all the voters equally and fairly?
Third, do we really want even to start back down the partisan path which has proved so divisive in both Olympia and Washington, D.C.? Why would we choose candidates who prefer this pattern of “governing” and don’t even want to try to represent the people in the nonpartisan fashion which our Charter requires of them?
We have a choice in this election. We can reject the politics of Olympia and Congress and insist that our government remain truly nonpartisan, rejecting candidates who openly advocate a return to partisan politics locally. Or we can go ahead and say that yes, we want to bring here to San Juan County the partisanship which we see playing out on the state and national levels and go ahead and elect candidates who openly commit themselves not to the interests of the people as a whole but rather to those of one partisan political interest.
Think carefully. This year you may not think it is that important. But once partisan politics returns to this county in full force, you may find you have opened a Pandora’s Box that we had tried to close, and once opened it is likely to be impossible to re-close.