The Best Post On The Elections
Original post made by ElectionWatcher on Nov 4, 2006
I think what we're seeing in this election may be a case of chickens coming home to roost. The incumbent slate has spent the past year ignoring the concerns of parents who use the Menlo Children's Center, using 3-2 votes to force their agenda, vilifying the city employees union, and riding roughshod over anyone who stands in their way. Did you really expect these groups to sit back during this election? The incumbents have alienated a lot of people with their heavyhanded approach to governing, and it should surprise nobody that so many people are coming out against them. Yes, I agree, we need to restore civility to the public debate, but what we're seeing now are the end product of four years of uncivil, discourteous, and mean-spirited behavior by the incumbents.
on Nov 4, 2006 at 10:21 pm
I think it's sad that Menlo Park politics has degenerated to its current state. More and more our local politics have come to resemble the acrimonious, partisan divide we see in our national politics. Absent is the spirit of compromise or the once revered craft of statesmanship.
3-2 votes are not a good thing, and neither are slates. 3-2 votes are a sign of an inability among our current council to find common ground and a refusal to compromise, and slates are a promise of more such votes in the future. No wonder the Secretary of State's office is predicting record low turnout this election. It's easy to get cynical.
So what's a voter to do? Elect a council that consists of Boyle, Duboc, Winkler, Cohen, and Fergusson? I fear that such a council will be unable to set aside their differences and work together and that we will only see more 3-2 votes and the bitterness and division that accompany them. On another council, perhaps Boyle or even Duboc could be fine, but electing them to serve with Cohen and Fergusson for the next two years is just an invitation for disaster.
No, the council I will be voting for on November 7 is Bressler, Cline, Robinson, Cohen, and Fergusson. I don't agree with everything Bressler, Cline, and Robinson have said about every issue, but I think they're the three candidates who are least likely to perpetuate the winner-take-all mentality that has come to mark our current council and who are most likely to work to find common ground with their colleagues on the council. Time will tell. A 3-2 vote isn't a sign that you won; it's a sign that we all lost.
on Nov 4, 2006 at 11:37 pm
Elder Statesman echoes my voice completely. A three-two vote this year, replaced by another 3-2 composition in two years, further divides us. We cannot shape our future together if we keep fighting for power.
As for the individual candidates, I have supported Bressler, Cline, and Robinson -- all the while knowing that I will not get my way on all issues. I took the time to listen to them, to research their positions, and while I know that I will more than likely disagree with some or many of their decisions, I also feel that they will give me a fair hearing. I have spoken to the current council several times over the years, with Ms. Duboc whispering and paying not attention whatsoever to anything I had to say, chuckling at some private joke while I was at the podium. So many of us -- individual residents who have cared enough about issues to address our elected officials, suggest ideas, asked for help, expressed our hopes, appealed to their humanity -- have had similar experiences, being completely ignored and "disrespected" by the majority after taking time out (in my case sometimes getting a babysitter, or coming with husband and then small children), just to have a say. I have seen this council "putting up with" dozens of speakers in favor of one side and one speaking on the other side, only to side with that lone speaker, not because of any salient point he or she might have made, but because their minds were made up long ago. I have sat through commissions making recommendations to the Council, only to have their expert recommendations labored over for weeks utterly dismissed by an arrogant majority in mere minutes -- a majority of ideologues and autocrats. Like so many others, in the end, I gave up going because I knew I wouldn't be heard.
Whether or not Mssrs. Bressler, Cline, or Robinson represent my individual viewpoint when the issues do come up, I trust that they will disagree wholeheartedly amongst themselves but, with Councilmembers Cohen and Fergusson, they will form a Council of independent thinkers, beholden to no special interests other than Menlo Park's residents. I know that I may come to be disappointed at times, but as long as the process is fair, I can respect that. I am also convinced that they will listen to each of us with an open mind, courtesy and energy that Ms. Winkler and Duboc have no passing acquaintance with.
on Nov 5, 2006 at 12:17 am
This race is the classic local government matchup: developers and businesses on one side and environmentalists and unions on the other. The Republican Party has endorsed Boyle and Duboc, the Democratic Party has endorsed Robinson and Cline. Predictably, the side that includes the developers, businesses, and Republican Party has a huge money advantage and is flooding our mailboxes with slick mail pieces, and it will take every one of us dragging our friends and family to the polls to vote for Bressler-Cline-Robinson if we're going to have any hope of offsetting that.
But getting back to the point, I'm hoping we will see a day when the council views divided votes as a tragedy, not a victory, and strives to work together as a team, not two entrenched camps.