For those who missed the IdahoTV debate on Friday, October 9, it can be seen here: Debate
As a Democrat, I was happy that some voters found a 30-year law that indicated there should be a runoff election for a city council seat if no candidate got a majority of the votes.
Evangeline Beechler, chair of the Idaho State Democrats, was getting a second chance.
What wasn’t there to like?
Then, came the postcards attacking Beechler for being a (gasp, ugh) DEMOCRAT.
Attacks are like packing tape. Logic and facts may peel the tape off, but the adhesive that remains tarnishes the target and attracts dirt.
I’ve seen statewide candidates attacked, but, locally, the public voice of the Republicans has been civil. Sure, some vandals have slashed tires and made death threats,but the leaders have been courteous.
Democrats who got the first postcards were confused–so Beechler was a friend of Obama and shared their support for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Very informative.
But postcards that followed were worse, claiming Democrats had a “radical platform” and a threatening “secret agenda.”
It wasn’t until the fourth postcard I grasped why Republicans were bringing the party’s weaponized national issues–immigration, abortion, and guns–to a city election.
Republicans are treating a Canyon County Democrat as a serious rival for the first time during my time as an activist. .
They are scared.
For 30 years Caldwell has been safe territory for Republicans in partisan elections. Now, the histories of these two candidates–John McGee, once the Republican’s golden boy, against the Democrats’ state chair–made party loyalties an issue.
Parties don’t have ready arguments dealing with issues like city services and recreation programs.
But the Republicans have a backup plan. Nationally, the party has spent billions demonizing Democrats, aka liberals and progressives, through the years.
It’s paid off in Idaho. Thousands of Idahoans who support public education and Medicaid Expansion continue to vote for Republicans who don’t.
While Democrats are known for dithering, Republicans have found that repeating arguments forcefully over time, gains them a sense of authority that many accept, even it they are not in full agreement.
So they attacked via postcard.
Yes,the ACLU is a liberal organization. Ironically, its fight to prevent government infringement on individuals’ civil rights mirrors that of the NRA, only ACLU supports rights for a wide range of people, including minorities, women, the LGBT community and prisoners.
During the past two years, the ACLU has led the fight to stop the government from caging immigrant children and separating even toddlers and babies still breastfeeding from their parents.
That “radical platform” of the Idaho State Democrats supporting “abortion on demand” reads like this: “We respect personal decisions that are private, including medical and reproductive decisions, religious practices, and political views,” and “we uphold an individual’s right to choose and their access to reproductive medical care.”
Democracy only makes sense if we trust people to make important decisions.
And the Second Amendment Alliance suggested that since Beechler is a Democrat, she has a “hidden agenda” that threatens your guns.
Both Caldwell and Nampa city councils have had Democratic members through the years and a bevy of Democrats govern Boise. Has anyone lost their guns?
That “radical platform” of the Idaho Democrats asks only for scientific research on gun violence, universal background checks, and keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers.
Democrats share Idaho values.
I don’t accuse all Republicans of wanting capital punishment for mothers who have miscarriages just because some Republican idiots in Kansas support it. Please stop claiming the most extreme Democrats represent all of us.
Or do Republicans feel you can’t win without scary bogeyman issues?
Boise isn’t the only city with a runoff election Dec. 3.
Caldwell is planning one also–at least that was true Sunday as I wrote this.
Apparently, the council passed an ordinance requiring a “majority” vote back in 1989 and promptly forgot about it. For 30 years, candidates went on winning with pluralities.
Then the notorious John McGee–who racked up criminal charges while representing District 10–got 39 percent of the votes.
And someone “discovered” the law.
Probably no one except McGee is more surprised than second place candidate Evangeline Beechler
For now, the moral of the story seems to be that the consequences of acting above the law can go on and on–or not. We’ll know more after Dec. 3
I’ve some other things on the recent election.
For one, If Caldwell is an example, the Idaho legislature’s decision to change school board trustee elections from May to November did increase voter turnout.
In May 2015 the number of voters who turned out to vote in Caldwell School District zones 2 and 4 were 214 and 145. In November this year, 801 and 411–or 3.75 and 2.75 as many.
I see this as good–voters should vote.
Yet, defeated West Ada trustee Mike Vuittonet felt that the additional voters were less informed than the traditional ones. Their decisions may simply based on whether a trustee raised taxes or not. (More discussion is at IdEdNews.org.)
Looking at election results, it seems that a lot of incumbents lost–20 out of 43.
That would seem unusual since Incumbents have the advantage of name recognition, a track record, and fundraising experience.
But Idaho School Board executive Karen Echeverria doesn’t see the number as high; over 200 trustees did not have contested elections this year. (Again IdEdNews.org)
That could mean a lot of voters are satisfied with the current policy setters or that they aren’t informed.
This leads to a second reflection–we need to develop more channels to get information out.
I imagine there are towns where people not only know the candidates, they can tell you about their kids. But local elections are hardly “local” in cities with populations over 8,000 or 10,000. The county provides a sample ballot and not a word more.
And local campaigns are low-budget ones where candidates often make do with social media and one flyer to hand out door-to-door.
City council candidates may get forums, but most others do not.
Local newspapers do a great service by publishing interviews or surveys, but not enough people are subscribers.
The problem isn’t new, but I heard more complaints this year. Voters were agreeing with Mike Vuittonet–they didn’t feel informed.
We need some good minds brainstorming on what can be done.
And this election again proved that a few votes can make a big difference.
That’s potentially true at every election, but it’s practically the norm for local elections.
Nampa District’s supplemental levy lost by 10 votes–or 0.13 percent. Swan Valley District’s lost by 39 votes or 16 percent. And the two districts with successful levies–Lake Pend Oreille and Minidoka–squeaked through with 51 percent.
Wilder City Council candidate Guadalupe Garcia lost by one vote. (Didn’t Wilder have a tie with a coin-flip not too many years back?) Just four years ago the Caldwell School District had all three trustee races decided by four votes. This year the two contested trustee seats were decided by 11 and 31 votes.
Don’t get irritated about last minute calls reminding you to vote.
They are confirming that your vote is important.