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Tim Myers: Setting a bad example

Posted: April 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.

I often utilize the term "geography" partisan. The definition of a geography partisan? An elected official or someone who aspires to elective office who adopts a party label pretty much solely because that party stands dominant in the particular area where the individual lives.

Now, three kinds of geography partisans exist, and like all things, they exist on a continuum from good to neutral to bad.

The good kind, in my opinion, relates to individuals who just want to serve their local communities. Those people further realize they can only serve the community if they win an election, so they attach themselves to the dominant local political party to facilitate the win, but also because that party includes most of their friends just by dint of numbers and chance.

Once they attain office they attempt to diligently serve and represent their constituents with no thought of higher political office and giving little thought to the state and national platform of "their party" on non-local issues.

A local example of a good geography partisan? In my opinion, though I vehemently disagree with him on several issues, Bob Kellar stands out.

With no thought for higher political office, he seeks to do his best in his judgment for the citizens in the community.

One can confirm this from his opposition to hospital expansion, something wanted by the political "fixers" in the local Republican Party, and his personal wounding in the 2012 City Council endorsement process when this combat and police veteran found himself moved to tears because a local Republican club stripped him of preliminary endorsement through parliamentary maneuver.

Now on to the neutral geography partisan. These partisans dream of achieving high elected office, generally in the place where they grew up. Because of their personal experience, they generally adopt centrist and pragmatic views, with one such pragmatic view including attachment to the local dominant political organization to facilitate their first electoral wins.

From then they generally hew to a political center that earns them win after win because they manage to capture votes from the center and even the other side by the sheer attraction of their personalities and charisma.

An example of the neutral geography partisan? In my opinion, Cameron Smyth. If he grew up in Santa Barbara or West Los Angeles, he would ably represent those areas in the state Assembly in the guise of a Democrat, putting forth pretty much the same pragmatic and centrist views he did when representing Santa Clarita under a Republican label.

This occurs because those these geography partisans really want to govern and make progress, realizing that they must compromise, because in a democracy, no idea, not matter how intelligent and attractive, will not find at least some opposition.

Now what about the bad geography partisan? These individuals also hope for higher elected office, not necessarily because they wish to serve or govern, but because they wish for people to pay attention to them.

To obtain their first local elective offices they attach themselves like a barnacle to the local dominant political organization, stating anything they think will gain favor with that narrow group.

And once elected, they will violate the putative tenets of that organization to obtain the attention and flattery of those most likely to grant it, namely the folks with business and other interests wherein they seek to jam their arms up to the elbow in the local till.

And one does not need to look far to see examples in local governance. Every elected member of the City Council, I believe, self-identifies with the Republican Party, the party of small and limited government and free enterprise.

However, they see no problem in endorsing the following:

Free advertising for car dealers (nearly all registered Republicans) paid for from city coffers.

The nearly full endowment of an Economic Development Corporation that cannot provide actual data about its impacts, positive or negative.

Purchase of land, in the name of open space, at inflated prices that developers cannot economically turn into homes or industrial properties.

Serious consideration of a small footprint conference center that would require the city to annually write checks for $1 million to fund an operating shortfall.

Examples of the "bad" geography partisans? Well, just make a list in one’s head of all the other elected officials who support these corporatist goals and one will know them.

Timothy Myers is a Valencia resident. "Myers’ Musings" publishes Saturdays in The Signal.


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