Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Whichever result, let’s look ahead

The endpoint is at hand for San Luis Obispo’s special election on Measures A and B, two initiatives designed to promote pension reform and the repeal of binding arbitration.

The voters’ judgment likely will be known Tuesday night, when the clerk-recorder announces the first count of ballots.

Today, we look ahead at how we as a community can bind up the wounds caused by this special election.

While we who support Measures A and B hope our side prevails, we do want to keep in mind what’s most important: Regardless of the vote’s outcome, it’s vital that we move forward as a community united and committed to continuously improving the quality of life in San Luis Obispo.

We understand why opponents — particularly the firefighters and police officers who directly benefit from binding arbitration — feel this is a personal issue.

Binding arbitration has yielded generous pay raises for police officers, and government employees receive pension benefits almost unheard of in the private sector. Not surprisingly, anything that might erode wages and benefits becomes a very personal matter. We truly understand that.

The essence of our democracy, however, is that differing perspectives can be held, yet worked out at the ballot box.

So, regardless of the outcome, let’s celebrate the process that our community has been going through, acknowledge it as a healthy expression of democracy in action and be thankful that it has underscored the vitality of San Luis Obispo. Let’s honor the fact that we have an energetic and involved citizenry.

The debate has been vigorous, as it should be. And simply recognizing that there are different — legitimately different — perspectives is a good first step in a healing process.

We also want to take this occasion to explicitly state our appreciation for the dedication and professionalism of our excellent city employees. We support their rights to collective bargaining, and we support our City Council’s efforts to provide excellent pay for their outstanding public service.

Finally, we share the hope and expectation that everyone will be able to come together after the election in a spirit of collaboration and good will.

After all, we are united by a shared desire for a healthy community, one characterized by a high level of protection provided by our public safety forces, by delivery of excellent services from other city departments, by the capable governance of our elected representatives and by the continued active involvement of citizens, without whose engagement our democracy dies.

Whatever voters decide about Measures A and B, we look forward to working together to assure a bright future for the city of San Luis Obispo. Lauren Brown, John Ewan and April Strong are the chairs of Citizens for SLO, which has campaigned for the passage of Measures A and B on this August’s special election ballot.