This morning I attended Indivisible: Conejo's September meeting which featured:
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKERS
REP. JULIA BROWNLEY
STATE SEN. HENRY STERN
ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL:
HOW WE’LL RUN, ENGAGE & WIN IN 2018
FEATURING DISTINGUISHED PANELISTS
VENTURA COUNTY SUPERVISOR LINDA PARKS
THOUSAND OAKS MAYOR CLAUDIA BILL-DE LA PEÑA
CVUSD TRUSTEE BETSY CONNOLLY
I thought there were some great takeaways worth sharing that everyone could benefit from.
For me, the most interesting part of the panel revolved around the conversation regarding partisanship in "non partisan" local politics/positions.
It's a good reminder (and a necessary one), to remember that there are a lot of things that do unify all of us, across the spectrum, whether or not we have different ideas of how to achieve a desired outcome. Mayor Bill- De La Pena spoke to this when discussing the various council votes she had been a part of, recalling that there were many 5-0 votes, even with a board comprised of members with politics across the spectrum.
Panelists Bill-De La Pena, Trustee Connolly and Supervisor Parks were all in agreement that before looking at party affiliation, you should look at the candidate and the candidate's platform, stressing that when you ignore qualified, good candidates because of their label, you could be doing yourself and your party a disservice, falling victim to endorsing unqualified candidates. That's why it's important to do the homework on all candidates, what they stand for, what their voting records have been and evaluate if their history and campaign speeches align with what you're looking for in a candidate. It's not always as easy as checking the box "left" or "right," in some cases.
Bill-De La Pena also recalled her ability to work with both parties, as an independent, and how her ability to see and understand both sides has been a unifying factor in board votes. Trustee Connolly elaborated on this, recounting how, in 2008, she very much considered herself that peacemaker... that olive branch. However, for those who have been watching the school board district, you'll note that it is a very divided board.... the "battle lines" often drawn, so to speak. Trustee Connolly offered some perspective on this and the toll it's taken on her outlook regarding what I'm referring to as the "olive branch approach." A little less optimistic than other panelists regarding this approach, Dr. Connolly said that while important ... too much of this "getting along to get along" led to the eventual division we now see in the school board. Essentially that mindset of playing nice allowed certain board members to get away with actions and remarks that were damaging to the board — the effects of which we are seeing now, in regards to the leadership of the board and the contentious meetings and votes.
Further, Dr. Connolly expanded upon the idea that there are bad people and there are self-serving people, and those people involve themselves in politics for personal agendas, as opposed to serving the greater good/or the community as a whole... and there are times where it's appropriate to put a foot down and recognize those individuals for what they are and what damage they're capable of causing.
Throughout this discussion, it was clear that there is a talent to balancing the moments you choose to "fight," and the moments where bipartisan efforts will be effective, and it's not always a true science... with panelists sometimes learning that the hard way.
I think that stemming from this discussion, to me the clear takeaway is the importance in voting for representatives that represent all of the people they will be elected to serve, not only a defined section of people. Similarly, if you view yourself as a potential candidate for office, the balance should be something you strive to achieve, when appropriate. This doesn't mean you olive branch every issue. There are certain party line issues that will always be that: partisan. But in local politics, there appears to be a lot of opportunity for bipartisan efforts to make a difference, with the right person behind the microphone.
Of course, I'm not even touching on so many other great points from the meeting that Rep. Brownley and State Senator Stern discussed, and those that touched upon the need to support, volunteer and fundraise for our candidates... and to RUN. There are so many positions to run for. Find your passion/cause, identify how you can be involved on a county/state/federal level and get involved.
Now I've got to bake banana muffins and cookies with AB.