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From a council candidate we didn’t endorse (but might have)

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm with No Comments »
October 15, 2008 3:06 pm

Bruce Lachney, who’s running for the Pierce County Council from District 3, initiated this thoughtful exchange with me after we endorsed his opponent, Roger Bush.

Hi Pat,

First let me say thanks again for the opportunity to talk with you and Kim about an endorsement.

However, I think I do need to clarify my position on Growth Management Act issues; it appears to be one of the Board’s main concerns and something I’m very well versed in.

Are you aware of my record from the Planning Commission on Growth issues? I’d be more than happy to discuss my views in depth (even after the election). But if you’re interested in an unbiased view I encourage you to talk to Chip Vincent [until last summer, Pierce County's chief planner].

At this point, Chip, having no personal interest in the present race, would certainly give you a fair assessment. Clarity is always preferable to assumption.

Feel free to explore the entire landscape.

Warmest regards and best wishes,

Bruce Lachney


We liked your views on growth management and on other issues. We liked you, too.

What we just couldn’t get past was your repeated statements (and we came at this from different directions) that you would always follow the public sentiment in the district.

That’s a populist stance, and a lot of people like it. We think the premise of representative democracy is that elected leaders immerse themselves in issues far more deeply than most ordinary citizens and have a special responsibility to act on that knowledge – sometimes bucking public opinion when necessary.

It’s conceivable the Germans would have won WWII, for example, if Churchill had not been so ferociously anti-Nazi in the 1930s, when most Britons didn’t even want to think of another war.

Anyway, that’s where we were coming from.

Patrick O’Callahan


Great rebuttal. I always appreciate a full analysis. Although, I doubt if most would call me a populist … certainly not the Sierra Club, WCV or Progressive Majority … but, perhaps it is a moniker I’d wear with some truth.

I agree with the idea that elected officials "should immerse themselves in issues more deeply than most citizens." But do they have a special responsibility to act on that knowledge? Perhaps. But, I am nervous with the idea of divine clairvoyance – that electoral power gives wisdom and public servants should govern by fiat.

Most of this populist view may come from events in District 3, not a populist philosophy; issues that have escaped urban attention.

The landfill is obvious, but manipulation of the Graham Community Plan (why Wally Balmer was drawn out of the RAC), why the Elk Plain park was sold, CMZ issues, and most egregious of all (and the one the TNT didn’t say boo about), was why the Dispatch had its legal notices pulled by the County Council (I contend a serious 1st Amendment issue).

All of these are local issues that are not populist per say, but display a lack of representation; issues where the greater good doctrine was sounded to subjugate the concerns of the people within that district. So I guess if that is populist, then yes, on some issues I’ll be there for the folks who elect me and that may make me a populist.

My view is to understand the issues completely, advocate and educate constituents based on the facts (which may be different than the current popular view). However, to be clear, if I’m unable to persuade or move the people via conviction, I would represent the wishes of the voters; anything else is merely a disguise for elitism.

Thanks for the good debate.

Warmest regards,


P.S. I think Churchill was more Anglo-spect than you might think. It might be argued that Churchill may have been a "Chamberlain" if it were two years earlier.

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