Our western county traditionally has been a “cul de sac” — politically, economically and culturally. It has created a “powers that be” of civic, business and elected leaders who are right leaning and long-timers, including many multi-generational families. It also has led to an economy that is lopsidedly focused on the “old,” not the “new.” And it has led to a class structure of sorts, with some “haves” and “have nots.”
But change is happening all around.
Truckee continues to integrate well with the rest of the world, including the Bay Area and Southern California. The precinct-by-precinct poll results that I posted show that clearly — the voting patterns in Truckee are more similar to the rest of our state.
Traditionally powerful groups there embrace change. The contractor’s association in Truckee “gets it,” with its PAC endorsing the most qualified, nonpartisan candidates for nonpartisan posts, as well as “green” building.
The voting patterns in Nevada City mirror the state results as well — more left of center than our state as a whole, perhaps, and aligned with the Bay Area.
Grass Valley is a mixed bag — with some conservative stalwarts — and the south county is more solidly “red.”
All told, this makes us a “purple” county, but it also signals that continued change is afoot. It also helps explain the political rancor that surfaces now and then. Examples of change:
•Prop. 23 was solidly supported by the local business community, long dominated by the “powers that be.” It lost here, however, by 10 points. Prop. 23 also was supported by CABPRO, Tom McClintock, Dan Logue and the tea party. Its solid defeat cannot be underestimated.
A growing number of people see the need to diversify our economy. The former head of the county Economic Resource Council left and invested in a solar company.
•Truckee and Nevada City are increasingly working together, creating political and economic alliances. They see the value of a new world order: promoting energy efficiency programs, sustainability or the APPLE Center in Nevada City. A precinct-by-precinct analysis of the voting patterns bear this out.
•Grass Valley has been a stronghold of the traditional “powers that be.” But it was rocked by the election of Terry Lamphier, who beat John Spencer. Now the most conservative board member has been replaced by the most liberal one.
But all signs point to Terry being a “player” with the other conservative board members. I predict they will work well together — exemplifying and showing the value of our “purple” political landscape. This will disappoint some on the hard right, who like to thrive on dissension and polarization, but it will be a win for our community.
•South county remains politically “red,” along with Penn Valley. But neighboring Placer County is becoming more “purple” too. The same divide between the moderate right and the hard right exists in Placer County. Longtime moderates are getting fed up with the hard right’s “my way or the highway” rhetoric.
•The internet is opening up new channels of communication. It is providing new, independent voices beyond The Union newspaper and KNCO. KVMR and Yubanet continue to grow. In a small town, people are afraid to speak out, but that’s changing too.
Our county is still being influenced by the more conservative politics of our district as a whole: McClintock and Logue are examples. But Charley Brown showed us that a better Democratic candidate can almost win.
Redistricting should also help make our elected representatives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., more moderate — not Democrats, mind you, but more moderate than the hard right of a McClintock, Logue or Sam Aanestad. The jury is still out on Doug LaMalfa, but I am optimistic he can be conciliatory over time.
The co-founder of the tea party — Mark Meckler — happens to be in our backyard. Mark has a lot of “negatives” in our county too, not just fans. But you’ll notice that he’s spending more time organizing out of town than here.
The latest video that I posted showed that. I encourage you to watch the video, however, to understand what the tea party plans for our community and others. Moderates, not just liberals, often find the rhetoric counterproductive. Some of them find it downright scary.
The bottom line: Most of our local problems, as I’ve said all along, are nonpartisan. In addition, people want our economy to be diversified beyond the “old line” businesses here. They have seen the downside of being too dependent on construction and real estate.
Lastly, they do not respond well to the high-pitched, partisan rhetoric, nastiness and name calling that characterizes the local and national political landscape. I think we heard that loud and clear with the results of clerk-recorder’s race, for example.
All told, change is afoot, as you might expect with changing demographics and more open communications brought on by the internet.
Filed under: Uncategorized