With two days to go, this year’s supervisorial campaigns have felt a lot like past campaigns with the same interest groups huffing and puffing and throwing their money around. If I were a dues-paying member of one of these groups, I would want to know why it was spending my money on issues that don’t matter anymore.
All this name-calling won’t change the fact that local government is careening toward a financial crisis – brought on by the chronic mismanagement of state government in combination with a tax system that treats cities and counties as step-children.
The outcome of this election is not going to change the rate of growth in Sonoma County, generate a rush of new public services or serve up generous benefits to public employees. The outcome will determine whether the next board of supervisors is wise enough and humane enough to know how to manage limited resources in ways that spare children, seniors and the poor from the worst impacts. We have real problems – budgets on life support, a health care system in crisis, an economy in transition, state requirements to limit carbon emissions, an aging population. How are we going to respond when budgets are shrinking and government doesn’t work very well? These are the issues the candidates should be discussing.
With the likelihood that Tuesday’s election results will produce run-off elections in some districts, maybe the candidates who survive will stop living in the past and focus on the challenges ahead. We can hope.