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By Martin Lamarque

Fire Board Race muddled by assumptions

Uploaded: Oct 15, 2013

I will come clean before I say anything else.
There is a lawn sign in my front yard that reads: Carolyn Clarke for Fire Board.

And you will find many more of those signs on the East Side of Menlo Park. Lawn signs for the other candidates are virtually non-existent on this side of the freeway. It's as if candidates from the West Side, knowing that races are decided there, rarely bother to try to get to know the constituents of the East Side. To most candidates, Belle Haven has been like a foreign land. And as long as they can count with enough votes and money to win without having to come out of their comfort zone, it will continue to be.

See, we neither have the number of votes, nor the money to contribute to their campaigns in any crucial way. The few who venture into our neighborhood to try to gain our vote, do so out of their willingness to make us feel included. But this doesn't happen often.

By now, the citizens of the East Side, have learned that their best shot at having a voice in local government is by supporting one of their own. Even if that candidate doesn't have the experience, nor the connections to level the odds of getting in the door; as is the case with Carolyn Clarke. This is her second run in 12 months. Last year, when she ran for city council, she ended up in fourth place. And by the looks of the concerted campaign literature listing three of the candidates from the West Side, getting Carolyn elected would almost take a miracle.

No one is born knowing how to run a Fire Board, and even those who flaunt their experience had to learn it somewhere. Carolyn is an intelligent woman, and just like the three guys, she can learn what she needs to get the job done.

I am not concerned about the firefighters' endorsement. Because she is an honest person, I trust that Carolyn will look after the common good when the time comes to make hard decisions.

The three candidates running as a slate, are doing so by touting their experience on one hand, and their aversion to Unions on the other, very heavy hand. This is where they lost me.

To try to make Unions the boogeyman of political races, candidates who do so show how little they understand the lives and plights of those who have nothing but their ability to work to support their families. In a society where working full-time at minimum wage, still doesn't provide an individual the means to support himself, let alone a family, Unions are there to help even the playing field.

I think that for the most part, we learned the lesson about the dangers of runaway benefits for public servants. But to keep using that as a way to vilify an opponent, shows an ugly side of the accuser.

If I want to show my disdain for money influencing political races, I will first go after Citizens United, and the Koch brothers.