A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.
Every two years in our district the voters choose a person to represent us as our state Assembly member. In my political lifetime, it’s always been a Democrat. When the current assemblyman is termed out, as Assemblyman Chesbro will be this year, the Democrats decide who will get the PAC and special interest support money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Republicans get to decide who will be the sacrificial lamb. Because the anointed Democrat has almost unlimited funds for the campaign, he gets enough money to take out big ads in the newspapers, fund radio and TV ads and send slick mailers. The other Democrat in the race, if there is one, gets no money and no support.
Of course, the chosen one always wins the race. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it was expected to be this year, but something happened on the way to the coronation. Del Norters were presented with a choice. They could vote for a person who addressed the issues they cared about or they could vote for the anointed one, even though he failed to respond to the issues Del Norters were interested in.
In April, all three candidates were asked to respond to four questions:
• Would you sponsor legislation to repeal the illegal fire tax?
• Will you sponsor legislation that puts the economic impact studies currently underway for Last Chance Grade on the fast track to be completed by June of next year?
• Will you dedicate a field representative from your office to be assigned to Del Norte County issues?
• If the vote on the state of Jefferson passes in Del Norte County, will you vote to let our county leave the state of California?
Only one candidate, Matt Heath, the sacrificial lamb Republican, responded. He gave affirmative responses to all four questions, including detailed explanations for each answer. The other candidates did not respond even after numerous requests for them to answer these four questions.
On election night, you did the unexpected. Fifty-three percent of you selected the person who addressed your concerns and ignored the candidates who ignored you. Yes, a majority of you rejected the chosen one and selected Matt Heath.
Now the chosen one, Jim Wood, and Matt Heath will head into the general election. We wonder whether this fall Mr. Wood will finally address the questions that we Del Norters want answered, or will he continue to assume that because we make up such a small portion of the districtwide electorate he can continue to ignore our issues?
Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the House of Representatives under President Reagan, is famous for saying that all politics is local. Del Norters proved the point on election night. It will be interesting to see if other counties also prove it in November.
Hundreds choose Yee
Would you vote for a candidate who is currently out on bail, charged in a federal indictment with accepting payment in exchange for votes and conspiracy to traffic in firearms? Not you, you say. Well according to our county clerk, some 472 of the Del Norters who cast their votes in the primary did just that. They voted for Leland Yee for secretary of state.
But don’t feel too bad — more than a quarter of a million Californians did the same thing. He came in third in a field of eight candidates for the office. Yee officially dropped out of the race last month but not in time to take his name off the ballot. If he had been successful in the primary and won in the general election, we could have declared that California is truly a criminal enterprise instead of just making the assumption. Luckily, you will not have to make that choice in November. You will have a choice between the top two vote-getters, Pete Peterson and Alex Padilla.
For the old-timers
And now for another edition of the “Did You Know?” segment for old-timers, those who have lived in our county for 30 years or more. Sure, go ahead and try to find the answers on Google.
• Who was second runner-up in the 1985 Del Norte Junior Miss contest?
• What title did Ernie Perry hold in 1989?
• Who was the program director of KCRE-AM in 1980?
Bob Berkowitz is a Crescent City resident and president of LifeStyles Research Company.