Sunday, April 18, 2010


About Local Politics

In January I filed as a candidate for a seat in the Woodland Hills Neighborhood Council. After the close of filing I learned that one other person had filed for the same seat, and that I was certain to be at least an alternate member of the council. In the election in March the other candidate received more votes than I did. I can thus claim to have achieved a respectable second place in the election, while my opponent was next to last. Member or not, I am a member of one of the committees of the council. I think it's called the Public Safety Committee. The committee deals with crosswalks, traffic lights, unsafe places that need to be closed or monitored, and the like.

I have a friend C who was elected to a position on a near-by neighborhood council in Los Angeles. C is appalled that a person who has a "separate agenda" can be elected to and serve on a neighborhood council. One of C's examples is a friend of the president of a local community college. C believes this person will vote the interests of the community college rather than the interests of the whole community. Another member who merits C's disdain has some real estate in the neighborhood and is ambitious to achieve zoning changes that will enhance the value of his property.

I say, so what? When was it customary to have any legislature, local or national, without members who have special axes to grind? A purely altruistic person isn't likely to go to the expense and effort of campaigning for office anyway. That person is more likely to join and participate in a service group, such as a church. It's precisely those individuals who have issues that they can influence by being members of a legislature who will try their hardest to join it. If they can not join, they will become lobbyists. I think C is unduly harsh in judging these members who may have conflicts of interest.

Actually, the friend of the president of the community college doesn't have a "conflict" of interest. He has a single interest. The same can be said of the person with the real estate in the neighborhood. C chooses to swim among sharks and still expresses astonishment that sharks act like sharks.


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