April 3, 2008
The notion that county supervisorial seats are nonpartisan is quaint when, in fact, they are exactly the opposite.
Nothing exemplifies that more than Placer and Nevada counties.
All one need do is look at the candidates now vying for Placer County’s District 5 seat or those explosive years on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors not long ago to see that the baggage candidates tote is packed full of political ideology. And once elected, they aren’t afraid to unpack.
Way back when ” before environmental impact reports, development rights and other often-contentious things local decision makers must now deal with ” there was the thought that political parties didn’t matter much when it came to municipal affairs.
“There is no Republican versus Democratic way to pave a street,” said A. Clarke Hagensick in an essay on the nonpartisan election system.
That was written way back in 1964, before the so-called “religious right” came up with the strategy of running candidates for nonpartisan local school boards in order to get their beliefs integrated into public education. If you equate the religious right to what over the last eight years has been synonymous with conservative Republicanism, well then, nonpartisanship? Fuhgetaboutit!
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Not long after 1964, something called the National Environmental Policy Act was created. Soon thereafter, California enacted its own version ” the California Environmental Quality Act. That ushered in a whole new set of rules and regulations that, as the title of the act implies, sought to protect the environment.
As we’ve seen over the ensuing decades, so-called environmentalists are synonymous with left-leaning Democrats. Nonpartisanship? Fuhgetaboutit!
Take the less-regulation, private-property rights conservatives, throw in those tasty governmental acronyms like CEQA, EIR, NegDecs add urban-area transplants keen on non-urban things like open space, migration corridors and the like and, well, you have the inhabitants of Nevada County and pretty much all of eastern Placer.
And those are the folks running for the nonpartisan boards of supervisors.
There is no Republican versus Democratic way, some say, to pave a street, build a subdivision, cut timber.
Fuhgetaboutit! Times have changed.
In the latter part of the ’90s, “liberals” controlled the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, spurring “conservative” property rights groups into action. If that period had grown any more partisan, armed factions would have been shooting it out in the Rood Center parking lot in Nevada City.
Meanwhile, in the Sierra Sun story this week, “Red county, blue county,” officials from both parties stressed the upcoming Placer County District 5 election is non-partisan and should focus on the issues at hand, as well as community vision.
That’s fine, but vision is focused by the color lenses one wears ” red, blue, or as in the case of nonpartisan believers, rose.
Nonpartisan? Placer’s District 5 Supervisor Bruce Kranz is a member of the county’s Republican Central Committee.
Nonpartisan? Candidate Jennifer Montgomery’s campaign manager is the regional director for the California Democratic party.
Nonpartisan? Well, the one thing you can say about candidate Bob Houston, who made a career traversing the entire political spectrum as a lobbyist, is that he’s probably a bit more ideologically flexible than his opponents.
About the only thing nonpartisan about local, nonpartisan elections is that no party affiliation is listed next to a candidates name on the ballot.
Other than that, Fuhgetaboutit!