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Fear them? Trust us? New playbook for local elections?
By Lee Brooks
Is it a Republican Super Pac or is it really just trustworthy neighbors?
That is the question that first popped into my mind when a political action committee suddenly appeared during the final six weeks of our recent County Council election.
Trust Islanders was formed by new arrival Royce Meyerott and by local realtor Greg King. It came along with the assumption that we should just “trust” them and everything would be all right.
I first noticed Royce when he wrote a letter to the editor of the Island Guardian. The letter was a lengthy list of conservative paranoia.
Fear what can happen when you allow progressive thoughts to manifest here in the San Juans Islands. It was easy to remember, because each conjecture on the list began with the word fear.
This approach seemed to resonate with many of the premises of the Common Sense Alliance and their rants against the Critical Areas Ordinance. There is no scientific knowledge needed here—only fear.
Soon after that, came the notion that if we trust their local knowledge about things, then we would have no more reason to fear.
Their “Suggested Posts” began showing up on Facebook, half-page ads appeared every week in the Journal and they launched www.TrustIslanders.org. One of their Facebook advertisements had a postcard of a farm boy, leaning against a cow, who suggested that we all just leave him alone.
Trust Islanders raised $24,750 for their Political Action Committee, which promoted the anti-Democrat candidates. Their campaign advertisements and mailers supported all three of these candidates.
This effectively doubled the war chests of each of their choices by virtue of campaigning for them together. This large amount of money came from outside of our normal funding for elections.
Two of these candidates won by very slim margins and the results were not certain at first. There has been much discussion about the effects of the circumvention of campaign finance laws by political action committees. My old friend Bear still tells me to “follow the money.”
Who were these people who asked to us to trust them? What was their agenda?
May I encourage island voters to look past innocuous feel-good names of special interest groups? Please consider fellow islanders on their personal merits instead of on characterizations.
There are many issues before us today that need real evaluation. The future of the islands depends on your decisions. Making a good choice requires more than just chewing on the end of a piece of straw.
— Editor’s note: A 40-year resident of San Juan Island, Lee Brooks, raised along the Skagit River near La Conner, is a fourth-generation Pacific Northwest descendent and Friday Harbor business owner.