There's a lot at stake in the races for three of five seats on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, and the seven candidates spoke with genuine passion at the Triplicate candidates forum last week.
Still, an unusual thing happened when members of the newspaper's Editorial Board assembled a few days later to discuss which candidates to endorse. We decided not to.
We feel as strongly as the candidates about the issues at play, but we just came to a group realization that it wasn't really our place to flat-out tell people how to vote.
Newspapers have a longstanding tradition of making election
endorsements, especially in local races. But frankly, that practice has
the potential to get in the way of a much more important responsibility:
informing the electorate.
The Triplicate has already published thousands of words reporting
what the candidates have said in interviews and at various forums. In
the next three weeks, we'll be fact-checking their statements and
contentions, and providing deeper explanations of some of the issues -
including the state of garbage and recycling service in Del Norte, and
just how much of our money comes from outside the county.
Indeed, you might want to hang onto those mail ballots for a while,
because we fully intend to bring more eyes-wide-open context to the
issues between now and Primary Election Day.
We will help you make an informed decision, we just won't deign to tell you what to do.
Meanwhile, we won't stop analyzing and editorializing on Page A4. We
do trust our readers to understand the difference between what appears
under the label of "Opinion" and what our reporters - none of whom are
on the Editorial Board - write on the news pages.
We hold these truths about the supervisor election to already be evident:
andbull; Del Norte is better served by cooperating with the state and
federal governments, not fighting or alienating them. Compromise is not a
The state is our biggest employer, and the source of social services
vital to many local residents. Millions of state and federal dollars are
coming our way for harbor, airport and highway improvements.
Heck, the Sheriff's Office alone got nearly $450,000 in federal
stimulus money over the last two years. Let's not thumb our noses at
state and federal officials, let's work with them to our best advantage.
To that end, Supervisor Martha McClure has been appointed to a key
position on the California Coastal Commission. It's almost impossible to
overstate how much power this panel wields on issues vital to Del
Norte. Her challenger, Bill Gray, contends that this position is
worthless to us. Yet our own harbor officials acknowledge that she just
played an important role in ensuring the timely approval of permits for
harbor reconstruction that can now begin this summer.
These are important considerations in an election year when voters at
all levels are being urged to just toss out the incumbents.
andbull; Being a relative newcomer to Del Norte is not necessarily a bad thing.
Some people have questioned the qualifications of the challengers in
these races based on their length of residency or their lack of a local
voting record. These newbies act like they know it all, seems to be the
complaint. One was called a "carpetbagger" in a letter to the editor.
Fresh viewpoints - even a stubborn unwillingness to kowtow to local
traditions - are sometimes needed. Besides, the challengers in these
races are championing causes that some longtime residents clearly
Take the issue of government ownership of vast tracts of Del Norte -
state and national parks, and especially the enormous Smith River
National Recreation Area. Critics of our status quo question how much
should be preserved as-is, and how much could be used more productively
to boost our economy and our employment.
There are plenty of questions about the potential for growing jobs
along with trees out in those publicly owned woods. It hasn't happened
much yet, however, which gives the challengers at least as much right as
longtime incumbents to address the issue.
But newcomers should do their homework and come prepared with specific plans, not just slogans.
- Del Norte Triplicate