A lot has happened since my last column ran in January, before I took a sabbatical to join several local political campaigns.
Now that the June 5 primary election is over, it’s time to reflect on lessons learned and messages received — or not.
For the first time in memory, mental health awareness and jailhouse attitude reform are common topics of discussion around kitchen tables and at coffee klatches and brew pubs across the county. The inherent connections between mental health, addiction, homelessness and our criminal justice system are out of the closet — and our personal and civic responses to those issues are being openly talked about and debated. Let’s thank the primary election campaign for that.
Yes, there’s a long way to go before anyone can claim San Luis Obispo County’s political and business elite are enlightened — that they’ve found compassion for those less fortunate than themselves. Still, there’s movement.
Locally, there was no great flood of political change. No “blue wave” was evident here or anywhere in California, despite the strong showing of Democrats nationwide in response to Trump’s continued affronts. Local Democrats and progressives did generate excitement for their chosen candidates, but that didn’t materialize into significantly larger voter turnout than in prior off-year primary elections. Perhaps the wave will happen in November, when the General Election ballot will be shorter, simpler and offer more defined philosophical choices. We’ll see.
Second District Supervisor Bruce Gibson was easily re-elected to his fourth term. He received more than 59 percent of the vote as currently counted. That’s a big margin by any standard, especially against two challengers.
My take: Overwhelmingly, District 2 voters want Gibson to continue representing their environmental and coastal protection values on a dysfunctional Board of Supervisors controlled by a majority of doctrinaire Tea Party ideologues.
Given that two of those ideologues actively recruited and sought to fund candidates to oppose Gibson, this is a sweet victory. Yes, I served on the campaign.