Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Haven't We Had Enough Nothing?

My campaign for Benton County Commissioner is focused on creating accountable local government that plans for - and budgets for - the wellbeing of future generations.
This will be accomplished by: 
For more information, please visit: https://www.mania4benton.org/
 Last night was a candidate's forum hosted by the Economic Vitality Partnership. That's a group made up of representatives from the school district, the Chamber of Commerce, OSU, Benton County, the Downtown Corvallis Association, etc. They invited the candidates for Corvallis Mayor, Corvallis City Council, and Benton County Commissioner to come and introduce themselves, and then answer questions related to "economic vitality" or "economic development."
Two of the candidates for Mayor went first, followed by candidates from contested City Council races, then, to finish, the County Commissioner candidates. The City Council candidates appeared in order of their ward number, while the Commissioner candidates went alphabetically, which meant I was the very last candidate to step up for questioning.

The EVP members had stuck to their message all evening, with all the questions in some way or another having to do with local economic conditions. But when the floor was opened for questions for me, that focus went out the window.

In my (brief) introduction, I had mentioned that I am the only candidate who has held municipal public office, worked on municipal budgets and worked on economic development projects like ones that had been discussed all evening. I also included the fact that I have been endorsed by the two local groups affiliated with Bernie Sanders, as well as by the SEIU 503. Skipping right past any questions about economic anything, sitting County Commissioner Anne Schuster jumped right in with this: "The SEIU isn't the union that represents the county, so I don't see how that helps your campaign."

Please note, that's not really a question, and it has nothing to do with economic development. In any case, I responded along the lines of, "Well, there are still a great many SEIU members here (in Benton County) who can vote, and I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to get at here."

She followed up with: "Well, what about the union that represents county workers?" At least that was a question, but it still had nothing to do with economic issues locally. I informed Commissioner Schuster that the local AFSCME chapter had held a candidate's forum, but that they were not going to be doing an endorsement in this race.

At this point, the allotted time for candidates to be questioned was just about up. Did any other EVP member have a question about economic issues? Well, Anne Schuster jumped in again, and asked me if I knew about Benton County's 2040 "visioning" efforts. Needless to say, I informed her that I am very well aware of those efforts - and followed up by saying that they illustrated one of my concerns about how such processes play out locally. I noted that Benton County and Corvallis both carried out essentially identical 2040 "visioning" projects, and said that I would have preferred that they had not duplicated those efforts, and instead had collaborated, because collaboration is always the most productive route to follow, the surest path to success.

Schuster replied: "Well, just so you know, Penny York (Corvallis City Councilor) and I did talk about working together on those processes...But nothing came of it."

But nothing came of it. That about sums it up. We need leaders who won't settle for nothing coming of their time and efforts. We need leaders who won't take raise after raise with no accomplishments to justify them. We need leaders who are focused and accountable and working every day to ensure that something comes of it for the people of Benton County. That's the kind of leader I will be if elected.