In the SJ Update mail bag this morning we have this letter from Justin Paulsen…
If 2020 has highlighted nothing else within our country it is that political division has seeped into every function of our society. As our current generation navigates social, health and economic waters which have never before been explored, one factor continually crops up, which although completely irrelevant to the issues, seems to exert undue influence: Partisanship.
Partisan political influence has driven discussions of solutions and compromise off the table, instead creating division that paints success as only attainable at the demise of the opposing viewpoint. We live in a time where political polarization is a tool that is used to divide, enflame and turn us against our neighbors. “If you’re not with us, then you are against us.” As we have seen all too often, this mentality not only stifles progress, but actively creates barriers that prevent positive, creative compromise.
It is in the shadow of this pervasive national backdrop that we should take solace in our local political structure. We are lucky in San Juan County to have non-partisan local governance that is not beholden to the financial and ideological influence that partisan politics inputs into decision making. The wisdom of those who drafted our County Charter envisioned the need for impartial representation, driven by community concern, not political affiliation.
Unlike many of our neighboring counties, our charter intentionally places our legislators in a position free from partisan affiliation. Through this design, our local legislators are free to execute their work without consideration of or influence from party. Perhaps more importantly, the voices of our county residents are to be equally heard by our representatives regardless of personal, political beliefs. Inevitably there will be issues for which we hold opposing viewpoints but elimination of a partisan filter removes one, unnecessary obstruction in achieving a suitable compromise.
As we head into what is perhaps the most tumultuous national election in recent history, it is important to step back and remember that our local election is not about political division. Our community is not defined by its political affiliation, but instead by our common focus on providing for the good of one another, the environment and our economy.
While our discussions of local policy and legislation are sure to stir emotion and cause disagreement, as citizens and voters, we must continue to demand that our local leaders maintain the distance from party affiliation that our charter envisions. As was recently pointed out to me, there is neither a “d” or an “r” in “San Juan County”. Let’s keep it that way.