Which Way Will The New Yakima City Council Lean?
The Primary Election for 2017 is over and for Yakima City Council it looks like there will be three new members this fall. Two incumbents chose not to seek re-election (Bill Lover #4 and Maureen Adkison #6) so that’s a given, while District #2 incumbent and former mayor Avina Gutierrez looks likely not to finish in the top two.
City Council seats are “nonpartisan” in nature meaning that party politics are not generally considered. You don’t have to declare if you are a republican or a democrat or whatever and it isn’t revealed on the ballot. The idea is that ideology shouldn’t guide the decisions you make as a council representative but rather your understanding of the needs of the local community should provide your legislative compass. At least that’s the theory.
What happens in reality? The ACLU/Court mandated redistricted election two years ago introduced a profound change in council direction. Liberals have controlled the council now for the past two years in what is still a essentially a 60/40 conservative city. How has that worked out in your opinion?
What does the primary portend for the future? Ms Gutierrez in District # 2 has shown herself to be a card carrying One America Social Justice Warrior Liberal but if she isn’t moving on to the general election, what does that mean for the direction of District #2? Likely little change. Pablo Gonzales has the lead and he has previously run as a 15th legislative district democrat. If he wins it’s a democrat for democrat trade.
Uber conservative Bill Lover is out in District #4. I’m not sure how candidate Keith Effler would describe himself but he doesn’t strike me as anything approaching Lover’s consistent political position and Dr. Kay Funk, the other vote leader is definitely on the liberal end of the scale. Lover’s retirement theoretically tilts the council even more to the left than it is now.
District #6 says good-bye to retiring Republican Maureen Adkison. Candidate Micaela Razo has the support of the area republican party and former republican candidate for Governor Bill Bryant --but she got clobbered in this primary by candidate Brad Hill. Questions-Is Hill not seen as conservative enough by those who should know? Are party politics not of interest to him? All remains to be seen, but if the republicans choice can’t overcome a lead that was 6 times her primary total, does that mean a further shift left from the seat that was reliably conservative in the hands of Adkison? It will be interesting to watch it play out. For the record, Hills total of 2,055 votes was more than twice the total of the top four finishers in the other two races combined. So much for the “electoral equality” ushered in by the ACLU.
Council observers will have little doubt as to where Councilwomen Mendez, Cousens and Gutierrez all stand. On most days it’s farther to the left of where Mayor Coffey usually stands on most days.
The point of all this is that political ideology does matter when it is brought to bear on problems facing the city. Compromise is harder to come by when a national agenda or the possibility of future party elevation drives the decision making process. What’s right for Yakima may not be right as seen through the eyes of the state party or the DNC!
Yakima is changing along with the demographics of the nation. But are we as different today in reality as the current council is and as it appears the new council might ultimately be?
This is just thinking out loud exercise for me and a little wondering. I wonder if we are we forcing a left leaning peg into a still right leaning hole. We saw the friction and even increased racial tension that came about from the last election. What happens this time?
Some of this past two years may have been politics and some of it might have just been personalities…the thing to keep in mind is that you can only choose from among those who actually run. Not happy with the potential? A lot of votes -3 out of 4 -
were simply tossed away.
But it is what it is and the bottom line for all voters is to make sure you know where the candidates in your district stand on issues important to you, the district and the city before you vote in November.
23% voter turnout is just not enough considering the important issues facing our community. Study up, listen up, to KIT …and be an informed voter this November.