Even though Tony Larson is probably not nearly as conservative as I am, I have supported him because he seemed a bit more middle of the road and with a little broader focus than Jean Melious. I didn’t give it much thought beyond that until it recently dawned on me, just how heated the race for the open Whatcom County Council position has become between Tony Larson and Jean Melious. Well, now I’ve given it a bit more thought and a bit deeper dig.
I didn’t think it’s heated because the candidates are so closely matched, rather I thought it was heated because the two candidates have two vastly different views. The differences were made clear back in July, when in this Herald Article Election to decide new face on Whatcom County Council, Jared Paben asked this very telling question,
“How do you think the county should best balance its budget?”
Melious: Council members must ensure we’re funding community priorities, including protecting natural resources, paying for health and safety and preventing flooding.
Larson: For revenue, we shouldn’t raise taxes and fees, but we should support businesses and help them thrive, which grows tax revenues,
And another question,
What is your priority as a council candidate?
Melious: Her main priority is ensuring the council is a place people can come together, and where landowners and their attorneys’ interests are balanced against those of everyone else in Whatcom County.
Larson: We need to look at protecting existing jobs and creating new ones. We need to work with other local governments and organizations to come up with a package of incentives to attract businesses
Let’s see…is the average person in Whatcom county concerned with a good job so they can pay bills or are they concerned with ensuring that landowners and their attorneys’ interests are balanced with everyone else? Well I have a job…but I don’t have a land use attorney, so I must be who Jean Melious refers to as an “everyone else.” I believe most of the people that I know are also everyone else’s and this everyone else can relate to Tony Larson and his county priorities. Perhaps someday, if I have a land use attorney, I’ll relate to Jean Melious. I hope not, though.
Most people(everyone else) recognize that the money government uses to protect our environment comes from thriving businesses who pay taxes and hire workers who also pay taxes. So in my everyone else view, Jean Melious is really backwards, while Tony Larson has it straight; get people working so we can afford to spend money on public safety, the environment, or anything else we choose. His message makes sense.
The differences between the two candidates are vast, so there was the potential for heat. But, but I didn’t understand why things were so heated when voters could just pick the candidate with the message that they felt best represented them. So I dug some more and found the answer.
The heat is not over his message. The heat directed towards Tony Larson is coming directly from the Melious Campaign who have a pack of rabid progressive dogs behind them. That sounds nasty, but how else is there to refer to a group like Washington Conservation Voters who create negative radio ads aimed directly smearing Tony Larson’s image rather than explaining how Jean Melious’ view is better for the people of Whatcom County. And how else would you refer to a group like The Progressive Majority who describe their relationship to the Melious campaign like this,
Jean is seeking to replace Bob Kelly… We helped elect Bob in 2007 and electing Jean will allow us to retain this progressive seat. Jean has compiled a great team of Camp Wellstone-trained volunteers and staff. Jean will need to pull all the partners together to defeat the opposing ideological forces in this swing county.
Camp Wellstone is described as “an intensive and energizing training program that is open to anyone interested in gaining practical skills in progressive political action.” Ok, so the dogs from the Progressive Majority are not so much rabid as they are well trained dogs who will attack on signal.
Lately, and with the assistance of the Bellingham Herald political reporter, the progressive dogs have launched an attack of semantics on Tony Larson over what he did or didn’t say about BP and Whatcom County during his campaign.
The county should make permitting faster and easier for businesses wanting to expand, he said, noting that BP Cherry Point’s planned new construction will generate hundreds of jobs but is only expected to be possibly permitted in 2011. "Why not do it now instead of later, if we can?" he asked.
That’s what Tony said back in July during the same interview article mentioned above and I haven’t seen nor heard anything from him that would tell me his position has changed. And I agree, if all the ducks are lined up, why not get a permit to a company like BP now rather than later?
I got my ballot yesterday and rabid dogs be damned, I’m voting for Tony Larson.