Yin and yang
Final vote tallies aren’t yet in from last week’s Chico City Council election, but one thing is clear: Nobody pulled up lame. The three liberals took the top spots—at least until the remaining absentee ballots are counted—but all six candidates garnered respectable numbers of votes.
It’s impossible to know how many people voted along slate lines or voted for fewer than three candidates, but the closeness of the outcome—only 3,410 votes between top and bottom, out of more than 47,000 cast—suggests that no one group in Chico has a monopoly on the town’s vision for the future.
Our experience—anecdotal, we admit—tells us that many if not most Chicoans agree with both camps to some extent and aren’t nearly as polarized as political campaigns become at election time.
They agree with conservatives because they know the town is going to grow, that construction is an important local industry, and that builders perform a valuable function. They want quality affordable housing, good-paying jobs, and efficiency and responsiveness in local government.
They also want Chico to grow well, which means they support liberals’ call for thoughtful planning, attractive architecture, more parks, trees and open space, and efforts to minimize sprawl and its accompanying traffic congestion. They appreciate the quality of life in Chico, and they don’t want to lose it.
These are not necessarily incompatible goals, and council members should remember that their success will be measured by how well they meet them all. Granted, there are ongoing issues—Bidwell Ranch and a downtown parking structure are examples—on which agreement will be difficult, but that’s OK. Disagreements sharpen arguments and even, on occasion, change minds. In this way liberals and conservatives help define each other, and together they make a whole: the deliberative council that decides Chico’s future.
Whoever wins when all the votes are counted, we congratulate all the candidates. Chico voters were fortunate to have such first-rate people to choose among. We look forward to a productive two years in city government.