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Reasons to pause and give political thanks

4:29 pm November 21st, 2012

PAT JENKINS/Dispatch editor

There are two tiers of Thanksgiving. There’s the main one – the reflection and gratitude that hopefully all of us feel this time of year for the bounties in our lives such as health, family, friends and peace that hopefully all of us have in as much abundance as possible. And then there’s the one left over like a hunk of cold turkey from the election season that ended a couple weeks ago. I hereby bow my head and give my political thanks:
• I’m thankful for no more political advertising on television. A spattering of it was brilliant and effective; most of it was pandering, laughable and insulting in the way it tried to dumb-down important issues and races to gut-level, knee-jerk reactions. When will that stuff ever stop?
• I’m thankful for all the losing candidates in races that attracted only two candidates. I’m thinking of the contests between Jim McCune and Marilyn Rasmussen for Pierce County Council, Pat McCarthy and Bruce Minker for county executive, and Gary Alexander and Greg Hartman for state representative. Minker and Hartman in particular deserve our thanks for being willing to tackle the long odds against them – as first-time, little-known candidates – of possibly beating well-entrenched incumbents who generally were in good overall standing with the electorate. Minker and Hartman at least gave voters a choice.
• Speaking of first-time candidates, I’m thankful that Billie O’Brien offered herself as a choice to become Pierce County’s assessor-treasurer. As a longtime (21 years) employee of the assessor-treasurer office, currently as one of its top administrators, she could have just sat back in her relative job security and waited for someone else to be elected as the long-awaited, much-needed replacement of Dale Washam. In electing Mike Lonergan instead by a substantial margin, voters may have seen O’Brien as a holdover from the Washam nightmare. If so, she did’t deserve that. She was an impressive candidate.
• I’m thankful that my family and I aren’t among the people who must rely on Pierce Transit buses to get to work, school or other important places in their lives. The cuts to that service that are coming as a result of the apparent narrow defeat of a tax measure to keep all the wheels turning (it was losing by less than 700 votes last week with just a few days left before yesterday’s certification of official results) are more painful than bus-dependent citizens deserve.
• On a brighter note, I’m thankful that just under 79 percent of Pierce County’s registered voters cared enough about their governments and the political process to cast ballots. For the other roughly 20 percent who chose to sit this one out, I’m sorry they were either too jaded, too uncaring, too turned off by nasty and personal campaign attacks, too busy or too forgetful to be part of the one activity in which all of us can truly say our voice counts every bit as much as everyone else’s.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 360-832-4697, editor@dispatchnews.com

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