In politics, as in life, change is inevitable. The problem is, too often change doesn’t really happen in politics, resulting in the same old same old.
We see this concept at work in Washington, often referred to as a swamp, where mossy-backed suits bloviate about everything, but generally do little or nothing about it. A good example has been members of the Trump administration and Congress twiddling their collective thumbs while hundreds of thousands of federal workers endured a pay period without actual pay.
Is there anyone reading this who does not believe — make that know — they could do a better job solving this nation’s problems?
We witnessed such beliefs in play last week when the Solvang City Council’s sitting four members chose a tie-vote-breaking fifth member. The choice is local accountant and former city planning commissioner Dan Johnson, who has taken the seat vacated when council member Ryan Toussaint upset long-time Mayor Jim Richardson in the November election.
Johnson was not on the November ballot, although he said he thought about running, but decided against it for family and business reasons.
The City Council had some options on how to fill Toussaint’s seat. Members could have selected the person who finished just out of the money in the November vote. That would have been Joan Jamieson, who already has experience as a council member.
Another option would have been to hold a special election, but the cost was too daunting for a small town’s budget.
Opting to take applications and choose from the 10 residents who applied was yet another path, and the one the council’s four seated members chose, much to the disappointment of several citizens at last week’s meeting who expressed the desire to have elected officials with prior public policy-making experience.
We understand that point of view, which has some obvious advantages, one of which is that people with prior experience in elected office may be less likely to repeat mistakes made the first time around.
It was also mentioned that opting to appoint the runner-up in the voting would erase any vestige of political favoritism. We get that, too.
But the route taken by the council, choosing to make the appointment from an open field, is the one that best suits the community, and the political tone of Solvang in general. Sort of an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new approach. If only that were possible at the federal level. Even though a new wave of young men and women have been elected to Congress, more young minds are needed.
As an accountant and former city Planning Commission member, Johnson has all the experience he needs to help Solvang grow into the future. And the fact that the current council consists of mostly new faces is favorable as well.
As a CPA, Johnson said he didn’t want mistakes to be made that might result in Solvang taxpayers having to pick up the bill. We also liked his response to a question about handling opposition to issues he intended to support, saying he has three small children, and trying to get them to shower or go to bed can lead to some hostile discussions. Something every adult family member knows to be a fact.
Johnson’s stated vision for Solvang is to make sure the city is able to sustain itself fiscally in the long term, saying, “If you’re not changing yourself, then you’re going to get left behind.”
A notion that would benefit our elected representatives in the White House and Congress.