Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This is What I've Been Talking About

I'm running for Benton County Commissioner because there are things we need to be doing at that level of government that we aren't. I wholeheartedly believe that I am the best candidate for the job.

Case in point: The funding for the cold weather shelter - or should I say, the funding debacle for the cold weather shelter.

Let's do a quick recap of events, shall we? Benton County agreed to contribute $60,000 in funding for the upcoming winter season. It was a done deal. Then, behind the scenes, obviously something happened.

All of a sudden, Commissioner Anne Schuster was badmouthing the shelter via social media, and then, the Commissioners had a "public" meeting that was, to use the Gazette-Times' description of it, "under-the-radar." They put out a meeting agenda that didn't include the shelter funding as a topic, then, when everyone had left the meeting - when quite literally nobody was watching - all three Commissioners decided to pull the funding for the shelter.

News of that decision broke, and then all Hell broke loose as well. Anne Schuster was sent out on a mea culpa mission that went down in flames. On the ropes, the County Commissioners scheduled not one but two new public meetings to deal with this issue. At the first, they got an earful from the public, blasting them, and supporting the shelter. At the second, earlier today, with quite literally a room full of people watching, all three Commissioners (without explanation) reversed themselves and voted to go right back where this all started and give the shelter the $60,000.

A lot of people had to do a lot of work to get those three right back where they started - which was the right place to be for a number of reasons. So, please focus in on this: Whether or not you agree with the shelter funding, and whether or not you agree with the initial decision to pull the funding that started this whole mess, the fact remains that the process was bad. Deceptive agendas, secret meetings and broken promises are not the means to use to achieve a good end. When the process is poisoned, all decisions coming out of it are suspect - even those you might agree with.

So why am I the best candidate for the job? Because I will do the right thing regardless of whether or not anyone is watching. That means the right thing for the community, and the right thing in terms of using an open and honest policy-making process. What's more, even though I will do the right thing regardless of whether or not anyone is watching, I will also be a tireless advocate for getting more people watching. Government needs oversight and feedback. As today's vote proved, it operates best with those two ingredients in the mix. Our county government has operated for too long with too little oversight. That needs to change.

Another reason I'm the best candidate for the job? I mean aside from my experience and passion and creativity, I'm also the candidate who shows up, who tracks these things and watches what goes on. Today, like so many other County Commissioner meetings, I was the only candidate for that office there.

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