Over the past four weeks, I have received multiple mailers and have seen numerous Facebook posts made up of personal attacks against incumbent Pat Eklund. She is running for her 7th term on the Novato City Council. I have also read Marin IJ Letters to the Editor using “private conversations” as a means of attempting to sway voters against reviewing the issues and the candidates.
This is an election with two incumbents whose records speak for them. The other is newcomer Kevin Morrison whose online posts, tweets and blogs speak loudly about his lack of experience. In his mailers, he chose to distort an incumbent’s record in order to gain votes.
Looking at my ballot, I realized that city council isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about having representation for different points of view. Spending at the city, county, and regional level has become a key issue. We need leaders that can distinguish spending that is based in “need” from spending that is based in “want.”
There are members of the Novato City Council that refuse to make unpopular financial decisions because they fear reprisal come election time.
For example, the decision to add a 3rd SMART station at the city’s expense went against recommendations by the interim city manager Cathy Capriola; Brian Cochran, the city’s respected finance director; and the city staff report. They concluded that the city could not afford it. Despite this, three members of the council voted to borrow and spend millions.
Typically, an election campaign gives voters a choice based on issues like this. But a group, surprisingly made up of men who don’t live in Novato, are making it personal and mirroring Morrison’s negative campaign tactics.
Novato’s leaders have been slow to condemn this activity. In fact, members of Novato’s Chamber of Commerce and the Novato Economic Development Commission have chosen to support the repugnant tactics. Even former Novato City Manager Michael Frank, a resident of Bolinas, has decided to interfere in Novato’ election.
During Frank’s six and a half year tenure as Novato City Manager, Frank’s management style created conflict that put residents in a combative relationship with the city, beginning with the Affordable Housing Element.
Frank’s comments on the Morrison campaign mailer about the incumbent hit a new low by using sexist language to describe her. It reeks of the good old boy network when you count the number of men attempting to destroy a candidate’s entire history of service to her community. If it is effective, this tactic may become the new norm in Novato’s elections.
There should be room on a five-member council for strong women. Campaigning that does not address issues, that lacks context and that attempts to personally demean a candidate should not be tolerated.
The real issues in Novato’s election include balanced development on a local and regional level; the impact of state and local taxes on residents; and the preservation of quality of life in relation to the environment and community.
I am voting for Pat Eklund because she is an experienced, capable leader that seeks to make sure that all voices are represented in council decision-making. Her depth of experience serving on the council is unparalleled.
Pat supports balanced development. But, her votes cannot be bought by developers that would prefer a rubber stamp through existing zoning and environmental impact studies.
A mix of diverse viewpoints is essential to good government. We need more leaders committed to putting the issues of Novato first and for voters to send a message that negative campaigning will not be tolerated.