Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Horns Of A Dilemma

Dear fellow itch-scratchers,

I'm in need of your help. I haven't sent in my ballot yet because there's one race that I can't quite make my mind up on. It's the City Council race between Kate Hartzell and Greg Lemhouse. So I have a request for you: help me make my decision. 

But first, I'll lay out where I am and what I'm struggling with.

Here's what I know about Hartzell: 
• She runs as a progressive, which means ideologically she's on my team—that technically speaking, we share a basic political philosophy. 
• She showed colossally poor political judgement by spearheading the drive to shut down Rogue Valley Roasting Company on a decade-old technicality. 
• Every time I see her walking the streets she's got a scowl on her face (not the most important thing to consider, but it speaks to working well with others and is in the mix).

Here's what I think I know about her, but may be wrong about:
• She's ideologically rigid and doctrinaire.
• She favors process over outcome to the detriment of consensus and getting anything accomplished.
• She micromanages and alienates city staff, thus driving away many qualified people from holding staff positions. 

Here's what I know about Lemhouse:
• He was once registered as a Republican, but is now registered as an independent.
• He's a conservative.
• He's running as a non-ideological pragmatist.
• He's a fresh face in a major change election.
• He's got a young family.

Here's what I think I know about him but may be wrong about:
• He's a thinking conservative, one of the sane variety.
• He'll take into account many sides of an issue before making a call. 
• While not a Burkean, he strikes me as a Sullivan-esque conservative. Principled and open to other points of view.

Here's what I don't know about him:
• Is he as non-ideological as he purports to be or is he a Tom Delay in sheep's clothing?


I'll state upfront that, while I'm still on the fence about this, I'm leaning toward voting for Lemhouse. I voted for Hartzell twice, but have serious misgivings about doing so a third time. I've watched her at council meetings and planning commission briefings for years and something about her is off putting. I've had the opposite experience listening to Lemhouse in conversations with advocacy groups and possible constituents. (One of the bennies of working at the RVRC.)

Still, I'd like to hear someone make a strong, positive case for Hartzell before I make my decision. So far, I talked to two Hartzell partisans—men whose opinion on politics I value—and neither could make a case for her. One told me I didn't know the whole story about the coffee shop fiasco (I feel I know enough, as it directly impacts me) and that she was smeared by the Tidings in re: the other issues. But then he never gave me his take on why he believed that to be true. He never elaborated on his assertions before going off on how he couldn't bring himself to vote for a Medford cop (Lemhouse). I got a similar response from the other man. 

Well, that's not enough for me. You're not going to get me to vote for Hartzell because her challenger is a cop. (If he were under investigation for abuse of power, that's another story. But he's not. If he were a Tom Delay-like radical right ideologue, that's another story. But he's not.)

So, if any of you out there are voting for Hartzell and can make a strong positive case for me to join you, now's your chance. E-mail or call me, I'm open to your argument. Otherwise, I'm going with my gut on this one and voting Lemhouse. 

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