Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | October 10, 2003

Choose wisely, Gilroy

Thank heavens the recall circus is finished and, whether you like him or not, we have a Governor-elect who won, it seems, by a wide enough margin that California won’t have to endure recounts and lawsuits challenging the results.

Now we have to live with the results. Some – including Doonsebury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who included a recall petition in a recent Sunday strip, and Gray Davis supporters who chanted the r-word during his gracious concession speech – want to recall Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I don’t. Just as I thought Davis was elected fairly and should have been allowed to finish his term, Schwarzenegger was also elected under California’s (ill-advised) recall law auspices and should be allowed to govern.

But the recall-Schwarzenegger sentiment is more than just political sour grapes. It’s a what-goes-around-comes-around object lesson for those who would recall a fairly elected governor because they don’t like his policies, rather than because of any illegal activity.

I hope that those on both sides of the recall issue who said they favored changing California’s lax recall rules will follow through and work to raise the standard – both in terms of the number of petition signatures required and cause for recalls – posthaste. California can’t afford – financially or politically – to go through this kind of upheaval again any time soon.

Voters need to cast intelligent ballots – both in the primary and general elections – and know that they’ll have to live with the results.

Pick your philosophical school – there’s the Biblical “you reap what you sow” expression or the eastern idea of karma – but we’re going to be reaping lots of karma in California in the coming months.

***

One downside of the end of the recall election is that I won’t get to hang up on the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Davis and Barbara Boxer, all calling with those abominable taped messages telling me how to vote on the recall and propositions.

Most people abhor telemarketing calls – that should be clear to anyone with half a brain – so I don’t understand what makes supposedly savvy political handlers think taped phone calls will sway opinions. Those highly paid political operatives enamored by taped celebrity calls would be wise to look at the brouhaha erupting over the do-not-call list legal challenges and heed my advice: can the calls.

***

The upside of the end of the recall election is that Gilroyans can focus on the upcoming City Council race, now less than a month away. As the news stories and opinion page of The Dispatch continuously reflect, there are important issue facing Gilroy, and this is an unprecedented election in many ways.

I hope that in the next few weeks Gilroyans will take an in-depth look at the candidates, study where they stand on the issues, and decide if the results of those policies will be beneficial for Gilroy.

Two excellent opportunities to become an educated voter are coming up. The American Association of University Women will host a candidates’ forum on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the chambers at City Hall. The Dispatch and CMAP are hosting a candidates’ forum that will air live on cable channel 20 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21. There will be an opportunity for viewers to call with questions for City Council and mayoral candidates.

Watch the Dispatch’s front page for detailed profiles on each of the candidates, and the opinion page for the endorsements of the paper’s editorial board. Read what your neighbors who write letters to the editors have to say.

Evaluate the sources of any political information. Does a group mailing a flyer or brochure have a political axe to grind? Do they have a record of presenting accurate, unbiased information in an above-board manner?

Unless we want a mini-recall circus right here – and I fervently hope recall fever hasn’t spread to South Valley – Gilroyans will have to live with their choices for at least four years. And it’s a sure bet that the impact of those council decisions will reverberate for years beyond the winners’ terms.

If there’s anything we can learn from the recall debacle, it’s how important it is to elect our leaders carefully. Choose wisely, Gilroy.

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