Chico’s clean campaigns

Absence of last-minute hit pieces is refreshing

Whatever you think about this year’s Chico City Council campaigns, they’ve been refreshingly positive compared to past elections. That’s attributable to the fact that no third-party political-action committee mounted a campaign to muddy the waters.

Readers may remember that in the last council election two years ago, an ad-hoc PAC called Accountability for Chico’s Tomorrow raised more than $60,000 that it spent mostly on direct mailing a series of hit pieces. The four-color fliers were almost completely negative attacks on incumbent candidates Andy Holcombe and Ann Schwab, putting the entire blame for the city’s problems on them.

The ACT group’s backers included many of the building-industry bigwigs who had poured money into past City Council races, including the Hooker Oak Alliance in 2006. The PAC still exists, but as of Oct. 27 it hadn’t raised or spent a dime.

The result is that the races this year have been far less nasty than in the past. Yes, some of the challengers tried to blame the incumbents for the city’s financial problems, when the recession is the primary cause. But the incumbents had ample time and opportunity to rebut the charges in public forums and elsewhere. That’s how it should be.

Congratulations to all the candidates, winners and losers, for conducting campaigns that respected the voters’ intelligence and desire for clear and useful information about candidates’ qualifications and positions on the issues.