There is a saying that at all politics are local. If that is indeed the case, then we have the opportunity to shape the political landscape here at home, regardless of the discord and rancor in Washington. On the November 5 ballot, voters have the opportunity to bring a new voice to Assembly District 1, someone who understands the issues, someone who will represent the full range of our changing communities, and someone who brings fresh ideas to the constructive development of communities in the North State.
As a North State transplant, I’ve gained a perspective on various aspects of our region over my 20-plus years here. Most of my previous decades had been spent in and around the Bay Area. Like many of us, I cherish the natural beauty, recreational opportunities, small-town feel, and the sense of community that comes from knowing-your-neighbors. I have also come to appreciate many of the unique, and at times, challenging aspects of North State culture. I’ve had the good fortune to encounter, work with, and befriend a wide array of folks including educators, foresters, ranchers, farmers, resource agency professionals, service-sector workers and local government employees, small business owners and seemingly all points in between. At the same I’ve had the opportunity to work with young adults, to learn of their interests, perspectives, values and concerns. Along the way, I’ve come to discover that, while the topic of politics is either something talked about with one’s political tribe, or not all. Yet, I know that many of my neighbors and coworkers, and even friends, cast their votes differently that I do. With this comes that realization that we really do have more in common with one another than the prevailing political narrative would lead us to believe. This fact supports the need to turn down the heat of our political discourse, and to move toward civil dialog, cooperation and compromise.
It comes as no secret that our region leans conservative and tends to vote Republican. And yet the region has changed significantly over the past few decades, Bethel not-withstanding. This is driven in part by transplants from the Bay Area, southern California, Oregon and beyond, many of whom are left-leaning and vote Democratic. The binary choice of casting your vote next to the (R) or the (D) is an unfortunate reality, but if we consider the issues and opportunities facing our region it is worth setting party affiliation aside to vote for the best candidate.
The North State needs a representative that engages in open and respectful dialog, who acts on behalf the shared values and concerns of our community. Someone who respects the concerns of those whose work the land, whose roots are deep in the region and whose concerns deserve to be address, be they regulatory burdens or rural jobs. Someone who understands the culture and perspectives of the “other California”, where professionals and working people alike increasingly struggle to find a sane and affordable life. These residents want to live in a place of tolerance of differences, one that supports the arts, and provides access to, and preservation of, wild and natural places.
The political landscape in 2019 is the product of a variety of factors: the manipulative capabilities of social media, the devolution of journalism, the propagation of false information, and the rise of a highly polarizing figure in the White House. This circumstance has led to fatigue, frustration and, in some cases apathy. What is needed at this time is a return to respect and civility, to respect for the diverse voices that make up our region. We need representation in Sacramento from someone who understands our local culture, concerns and economy, but at the same time has the ability to ‘speak the language’ and address the concerns that are motivating the majority of the California voters and a super-majority of representatives in state government. Someone who has the ability and willingness and disposition to work toward bi-partisan solutions to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. That person is Elizabeth Betancourt and I respectfully encourage you to cast your vote for her to elect a new voice for the North State on November 5.
Dan Scollon, Redding