Monday, November 03, 2008

Miscellaneous Endorsements: Pima County and Southern Arizona

And now for the post sure to annoy my readers: candidate endorsements. Just remember, this is a nonpartisan 'blog, so regardless of your party affiliation you can expect that I endorse candidates who don't share it.

  • Elect Brad Roach Pima County Attorney. I never thought I'd endorse a candidate also given the endorsement of the policemen's union, but (Republican) Roach's intelligent and temperate approach has earned the support of people with many political affiliations and tendencies, including quite a few Libertarians and Democrats.

    It doesn't hurt, of course, that when it comes to election integrity, incumbent Barbara LaWall is part of the problem, or that she has run the office in a highly political fashion, engaging in outright misconduct concerning the Stidham murder. And it probably helps that Roach was one of the principal victims of that misconduct. But Roach has taken the race far beyond questions of professional propriety by focusing on issues of intelligent management of the office.

    LaWall likes to promote high trial statistics, but a high trial rate wastes time and resources. Roach would like to get the office focused on putting the truly bad eggs--the ten percent of criminals who commit eighty-five percent of the crime--to trial and off the streets, letting nonviolent drug offenders and the simply stupid plea bargain. LaWall is reluctant to hire defense attorneys and turns down anyone who's ever so much as interned in the Public Defender's office; Roach understands that former defense attorneys often make the best prosecutors (and vice versa.)

    He supports, to some extent, the death penalty, and gives this "victims first" nonsense--more worthy of the Arabian legal system than ours--more talk than it's worth, but his election will bring positive change to the office and to the political culture of Pima County. (And possibly also to the state: LaWall and Terry Goddard together are principals in the Napolitano machine's culture of illegal electioneering and impunity.) I won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I must, however, note that I almost feel it a breach of loyalty to not endorse the accessible, open-minded, even-tempered Green Party idealist Claudia Ellquist, who is seeking this office for the second time. Like Roach, Ellquist has made sincere efforts to reach across party lines for votes and support. Like Roach, she promotes more intelligent management of the office, a higher standard of ethics (i.e. a responsibilty to justice, not just to winning cases), and enforcement of the electioneering laws LaWall and Goddard apply selectively at best. Unlike Roach, she also opposes the death penalty. I'd vote for both if I could, but our primitive voting system has it that if I vote for Ellquist over the much more broadly supported Roach, I might help to bring about the least desired outcome. I encourage a vote for Roach, but if you can't bring yourself to vote Republican, vote Ellquist.

  • Elect Barney Brenner Pima County Supervisor in District 3. Incumbent Sharon Bronson faced a challenger--me!--in 2004 who couldn't commit himself to the race. As a result she has amassed a substantial war-chest that has been spent on advertising and direct mail against Brenner, who came within 1500 votes of defeating her in 2000. Most of the direct mail and ads have been of the lowest sort we see in politics: "Look what I've done as Supervisor! What did Brenner do for you? He's not Supervisor and I am!"

    Bronson original sought the office because, like me, she was an environmentalist. It didn't take long, however, before she was running the county for the benefit of the development lobby. Shilling for business is a slander often hurled at free-marketeers, perhaps as misdirection: on the local level, it is the province of the left-winger. "If I let these guys have what they want, I'll have all sorts of funding for superfluous programs!" is the thinking that has carried the day on the Board of Supes and it seems in Bronson's office.

    We all knew that Pima County's boom couldn't last forever. As a candidate in 2004 I mentioned that water and open space together would rein in growth and that the County should plan more prudently for the future. Bronson did exactly the opposite. She tried to have her cake and eat it too, tremendously growing the County budget during the double-strength "boom" of new construction and rising valuations, and even claiming that she cut taxes. Yes, she voted for a decrease, but valuations were so high that it was a mere rate decrease.

    Party's over, new construction has come almost to a halt, valuations are down, and we're experiencing a budget shortfall. The county's voters couldn't bring themselves in 2004 to elect a candidate demanding fiscal responsibility, but that candidate was also 22 years old, new to the area, cast into the election at the 11th hour, working on a PhD, operating on a shoestring budget, and running at a time when the average voter thought the boom could last forever. Now that forever has come and gone, and that a more established candidate is in the race, I suspect that the voters will do what they should have done four and eight years ago.

    Brenner will be a good choice for the County. He believes that fiscal responsibility is the right thing to do and not merely something to do temporarily during lean times. Whereas Bronson merely has the support of the Democratic machine, Brenner has attracted endorsements from (maybe-Republican Supervisor) Ray Carroll and the Chamber of Commerce. He has no pretense to environmentalism but has substantially supported previous open-space measures. Moreover, his decidedly unBronsonlike position on the size and scope of governments means he need not act always in the interest of the development lobby. With Brenner on the Board of Supervisors, we can start talking seriously about out-of-control growth and ways to manage the water supply for the long term.

    Lower taxes, better policy, and fiscal restraint: what is there not to like? Sure, he's written for Human Events, but this is a local race, so who cares?

    In case you need a reminder, remember also that Bronson was a key architect of the Regional Transportation Plan and one of the chief election-integrity obstructionists, opposing her own party's records requests.

  • U.S. Congress, District 7

    Does anyone remember the old Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" wherein the Presidential candidates were human-eating "Space Mutants" Kang and Kodos or Reform Party candidate Ross Perot? That election didn't turn out so well, but my recommendation is that you not vote for a Space Mutant and instead cast your vote for Libertarian candidate Raymond Patrick Petrulsky.

    Who are the Space Mutants in this case? One is the incumbent, Raul Grijalva, a Democrat with a drinking problem who didn't distinguish himself on the school board, didn't distinguish himself on the Board of Supervisors, has done nothing in six years to distinguish himself in Congress but keeps getting elected because of a great skill at Chicago-style ethnic identity politics. When he does stand out it's for nuttery like a ban on scary-looking firearms or a national Cesar Chavez holiday. The other is perennial candidate Joe Sweeney, a clinically crazy man, on permanent disability, who operates an unaccredited "law school" and who is an avowed racist, one time calling Mexicans amateur Jews. He also introduced the term "genital drive" to the popular language. Watch and laugh.

    Petrulsky has been unimpressive, even for a Libertarian candidate. But when the major-party candidates are space creatures, vote for Perot.

  • U.S. Congress, District 8.

    "Tim Bee" is Spanish for "pendejo. This is the man who held up SB 1214 in the state Senate, who is a principal in putting Prop 102 on the ballot, and who cut Tucson in half, for hours, for a private fundraiser. Incumbent Gabrielle Giffords, on the other hand, has been lackluster even for a first-term Congresswoman, unwilling or unable to come across as though she believes in much of anything and thus campaigning on her (fairly good) constituent services record. I know that Giffords does, at least privately, stand for things; let's give her a "kick" and get her to stand for things in Washington by casting votes for someone in the race merely to take a stand: Sierra Vista area coffee-shop owner Paul Davis.

    Davis's campaign is also unimpressive, even for a Libertarian, but with a folksy manner and a contemplative, modest approach to the issues, he's been a better candidate than Petrulsky. I was impressed by him in person, even offering to give him his first campaign contribution, which he wasn't set up to take at the time. The chances of him winning are minuscule, but in politics, one gets nothing by voting for the winner. This time around it's better to induce Giffords to show some backbone, or the Republicans to not nominate a certifiable jerk, by not falling into the "Vote against X" trap and instead voting for the Nice Guy who is closest to our position.

    If you must vote only for the short term, however, do vote for civil-libertarian Giffords over culture-warrior Bee.

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