It was a packed house at the Greater Hansville Community Center Friday night, as 2010 political candidates vied for undecided votes with only three weeks left on the campaign trail. Co-hosted by the Community Center on the week of its 69th birthday with the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County, the evening began extraordinarily well with the local tradition of pie and genuine fellowship that small communities love to evoke. Unfortunately, the levity did not last.
The surprises came quick for this forum as moderator Fred Nelson made the rounds to turn off video cameras in the room. A last minute rule made by the hosts decided to censure accurate reporting and accountability of this public forum by video. To be fair to Nelson, he was clearly the messenger. I’ll follow up on this unusual hindrance at another time. This entry will cover Congressional and State House commentary with one exception at the tail.
Jay Inslee and James Watkins continue to offer clear voter choices to the future of Congressional leadership, accountability and self-government. Inslee blamed the prior Bush administration at least three times for the country’s financial woes but failed to acknowledge his own role in the Democratic majority during that time. Using a blame and attack strategy to deflect from his own culpability, Inslee even accused Watkins of being against protecting health care coverage for pre-existing conditions. The accusation cherry picked the massive Obama-care package Watkins would seek to repeal and replace, a program the majority of Americans disapprove of, and echoed the false and misleading rhetoric most common to a candidate on his heels. James Watkins had perhaps the most impassioned speech of the exchange when debating the viability of social security’s future. Responding to an accusation by Inslee that Watkins would seek to put social security in the greedy hands of banks and investment firms, Watkins countered that he would protect social security from the “greed and avarice of career politicians” that have borrowed and spent the people’s security on other programs over the years. Watkins also pointed out that Jay Inslee voted with the majority Democratic Party to turn down efforts by the Bush administration to provide oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an exemption that apparently remains in the Inslee supported finance reform legislation.
The Washington State House candidates for 23rd District were equally polar and contentious in their positions. Sherry Appleton (D) and Christine Rolfes (D) continue to acknowledge the challenges of balancing the budget but make no indication that the State has a spending problem as the result of their progressive ideologies. This should be a problem for independent voters. Challengers Pete DeBoer (R) and James Olsen (R) are strong advocates of greater fiscal accountability and job creation. One clear indicator of party divisions erupted over I-1053, which would reinstate a super majority vote for the legislature to raise taxes (recall that the Democratic majority suspended the 2/3-majority rule earlier this year). Neither Appleton or Rolfes support reinstating the rule, with Sherry Appleton suggesting that if our democracy were really about majority rule, then a 2/3-majority was an inappropriate hindrance because 17 people could “stand in the way” of the majority [of legislators]. Challenger Pete DeBoer smartly countered that if it were really about majority rule, legislators should respect the majority will of the people and honor the 2/3-majority rule. James Olsen piles on by telling the audience that the 2/3-majority does not tie the hands of the legislature but forces them to work together” instead of just raising taxes. These are two markedly different positions and should be clear indicators for voters to follow.
I’m passing over the other County offices for now so I can focus a brief discussion on the Kitsap County Coroner’s race. I actually hesitate in this because I don’t want to give the more inflammatory details of this story unnecessary traction, but the story is important regardless for the lessons we could learn.
In an incredibly ill devised misstep, challenger Pete Favazza (D) lobbed several personal integrity and morals accusations against incumbent Coroner Greg Sandstrom (R) that immediately backfired. I will not detail the accusations; suffice the audience was universally appalled. The accusations were highly personal, embarrassing, and lacked relevance to the forum. The smear tactic was an obvious and epic fail of disastrous proportions for his campaign in the north end and easily overwhelmed any possible value the man could have had in the office. I emphasize “could have had” because I can’t imagine he’ll get any rational voter support from North Kitsap residents as a result of his atrocious behavior, regardless of qualifications.
In an attempt to be fair to Favazza, personal integrity is an important qualification for any office and can be a barometer for how a candidate might be expected to behave legally and ethically. That said, the lesson here is that questions of integrity must also be substantial, substantiated, and relevant. American voters are increasingly intolerant with the politics of destruction, false, and misleading accusations that lack relevance to performance in office. Favazza has become the victim of his own sword.
As the result of Pete Favazza’s public behavior, I call upon him to immediately issue a public apology to Greg Sandstrom and disqualify himself from the Coroner’s race. He has publically demonstrated a sufficient lack of personal integrity and ethics to manage sensitive information so necessary to an investigative office, has maliciously attempted to exploit the personal life of a public servant and his family for gain, and in doing so has most certainly caused personal, emotional harm to the friends and family of Greg Sandstrom. And all of it unnecessarily so. Pete Favazza earns from me an early “NO VOTE” level of confidence in a race that in most years would fly under the radar.
Know your candidates and vote. November is coming.