Vote values or viability?

The Chico News & Review will come out with endorsements soon, which means this is a time of serious reflection. June 3 is a primary for Congress and state Assembly, and the actual election for Butte County Board of Supervisors and statewide propositions. It’s pretty important, even without presidential politics.

Some endorsements are simple. I have a feeling the rest of our “editorial board” (i.e. Robert Speer) feels eminent-domain reform as envisioned by Prop. 98 is too broad and prone to abuse, while Prop. 99 at least adds rhetorical support to a court decision that limits property seizures. So expect us to give a strong No on 98 and a shoulder-shrug Yes on 99.

Other endorsements are tricky. I’m glad I’ll be a panelist at the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum Monday (May 19), because the Democratic challengers to Rep. Wally Herger are surprisingly strong and I want to judge for myself whether Doug LaMalfa or Rick Keene backs the better Republican in Assembly District 3 (Sue Horne and Dan Logue, respectively).

The three supervisor races aren’t slam dunks, either—even the one that would seem to be. District 5 incumbent Kim Yamaguchi is conservative, Robin Huffman progressive, Dwight Grumbles … well, he’s on the ballot. Should be automatic, right? Huffman shares our values; Huffman should get our endorsement.



Hmmm …

“Values voting” in the last two presidential elections has left a residue in my mind (and my country). Distraction issues—gay marriage and abortion—trumped vital concerns, sewing up swing states for George W. Bush.

I understand how many Christians see eternal consequences for these rights; on the temporal plane, however, actions count. Bush’s war on two fronts affects everyone in the here and now, from military families missing loved ones to Americans crippled by the economy to international neighbors feeling uneasy in a destabilized world.

What does this have to do with the Board of Supervisors? Nothing—and everything. Whoever sits in the Ridge-area seat will not make many (if any) decisions with global implications. Yet he or she will do many things that could help or harm the district and county.

Huffman would forge a strong coalition with Jane Dolan and Maureen Kirk, in marked contrast to “the three gents,” as late Supervisor Mary Ann Houx called Yamaguchi, Bill Connelly of Oroville and departing Curt Josiassen of Richvale.

Huffman wouldn’t have voted for the M&T mine, which got denied only when Connelly—running for re-election in District 1—broke ranks and supported his Chico colleagues.

Huffman will take green stances regarding development and the general plan.

So we’ll probably like most of her votes.

But how effective will she be?

Huffman isn’t a dynamic presence on the Paradise Town Council, the way Kirk was on the Chico City Council. Her focus is on the Ridge, while the board’s focus is broader: Oroville Dam, the budget, the Mechoopda casino and the general plan.

In Yamaguchi’s two terms, key projects (i.e. the Upper Ridge escape route and Lookout Point) have gotten earmarks. Does Huffman have enough fight in her to defend the district should push come to shove over precious funding? Hmmm …

Ideology and influence aren’t mutually exclusive. That balance is clearly secondary for the open seat. It’s a key consideration in other races—something I’ll weigh heavily before casting votes to endorse and elect.