First off, congratulations to our new Mayor, Robert McConnell, and congratulations to our new Councilmembers Mina Diaz and Tina Arriola. They have their work cut out for them. The voters rejected Measure G and with it the impulse to avoid making the hard budget choices. That task should become a little easier now that we no longer have a reactionary majority on the Council tied to special interests. We hope that residents will continue to pay attention, and support their efforts now that election season is over.
We thank L. Alexander Matias and Louis Michael for stepping up with strong first campaigns for local office. They both ran up against well-known politicians with established constituencies under the new District voting system. We hope they will continue to build on this initial effort, and we look forward to supporting them in future campaigns.
As we all take stock of the implications of a national election that revealed the depth of the divisions in this country, we also need to look at how we bridge the schisms in our own community. We avoided the worst case scenario by electing Robert McConnell as our new Mayor. Clearly the vote total in this race was closer than it would have been had Mr. Brown’s criminal history and lack of transparency come to light well before voting was already underway.
It’s also true that most organizations and individuals that had given his campaign their stamp of approval took back their endorsements in the days and weeks that followed the reporting by Open Vallejo and the San Francisco Chronicle. But a significant portion of our community signaled their willingness to look past the shocking behavior detailed in the record and the recent experiences recounted by women all over town. That is troubling, and we have to ask why that would be.
The obvious answer is that a good share of local voters base their choice of political representation on ethnicity rather than competence and character. The diversity that should be a source of strength reinforcing the best aspects of our mixed cultural heritage instead holds us back. We can see the results all around us. As the City continues to struggle to find its economic footing we are failing to protect our most vulnerable residents and provide adequate levels of service for all residents.
How a person reacts to defeat says a lot about that person’s character, and Mr. Brown’s response to his election loss in the Mayor’s race speaks volumes. Instead of any expressions of remorse for misleading the public and all those supporters who had to take back their endorsements, he wants to blame his troubles on ‘racist NIMBYs’ who would “literally lynch” him if they could. His record of serial domestic violence, lack of transparency, and the numerous recent accounts of explosive rage and bullying had nothing to do with his election loss in his telling. This divisive nonsense is the very last thing Vallejo needs right now from its elected officials.
While some of the economic headwinds the City faces blew in from outside the community, much of the damage has been self-inflicted and the result of poor decisions by elected officials and City staff. As voters and potential voters we have only ourselves to blame. When we continue to view local politics through the lens of ethnicity instead of evaluating candidates based on competence, character, and integrity then everyone suffers.