Vote for a new era of civility

Chico’s City Council fails at constructive discourse, but that could change in November

Three Chico City Council seats are up for grabs in the general election and on Monday evening (Sept. 17) we got a look at eight of the nine candidates whose names voters will find on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Thankfully, what we saw were folks who seem to care about discussing the issues in a respectful and constructive manner. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’ve seen from the current panel over the last four years, and especially since 2016, when the most strident voices were elevated to leadership positions.

Chico’s City Council chambers have long been a place for passionate debate, but in recent years the decorum has devolved into a chasm of conflict and pettiness, complete with name-calling and finger-wagging from the dais. It’s this environment that led to the act of civil disobedience at a recent meeting—a portion of the gallery shouting in unison—that we hope those seeking an elected seat understand stems from years of community members being either ignored or belittled.

As we noted following the last council meeting, the only way to foster civility is to demonstrate it. We’ve pretty much given up on the aforementioned leaders—they have shown little interest in listening to the members of the community who don’t share their particular brand of ideology.

Last week, on his City Council Facebook page, Chico Mayor Sean Morgan, among the most combative members of the panel, called attention to vandalism on a public sidewalk outside of the business of one of the conservative folks running for council. But rather than simply denouncing the act, the mayor questioned whether the protesters at the aforementioned meeting were responsible for the graffiti.

Fact is, Morgan has no idea who is responsible for defacing the sidewalk. That makes his comments irresponsible. He went on to put out a call to action: “Stand up for civility, democracy, and our great city.” We couldn’t agree more, so we hope the mayor will take some time for introspection on that front.

As for that damage to public property, we agree it’s unacceptable. We hope that whoever is responsible is caught and penalized.

We’d like to remind the candidates in this election cycle of the fact that the City Council is a nonpartisan body. What this means is that, irrespective of their party affiliation or who contributes to their respective campaigns, the council is supposed to serve all of Chico’s residents. The panel will get at least two fresh faces in December, and we hope that the new blood ushers in a new era of civility.