Big money doesn't belong in city races

Big money doesn't belong in city races

Often when we were kids we liked to grouse, "fair is fair." As the youngest of five in a middle class suburban family, it was something I heard so often that it seems as though the words were imprinted on me, a value that I now pass on to my own children since fairness really seems to enter into everything. In fact, I'd argue that it is an American value, right up there with having a good work ethic and the idea that solutions are more important than ideology.

As we head into the mean, tawdry days of November, I hope we can collectively hang on to that vision.

Our local city council hopefuls and incumbents largely agree to voluntary spending limits and contributions and the two who chose not to, did so because the limit is so comfortably high ($3,352) that they didn't expect to come close to reaching it. Several thousand dollars buys plenty of lawn signs and advertisements.

And if fairness was brought into this that would be that, but here in Ashland we have a PAC calling itself "Ashland Residents for a Great City Council" who is the financial embodiment of the kid who doesn't play fair. As of the last reporting they have spent $3,862 to push several people into office and to keep one incumbent in his seat. At a time when "Move to Amend" is such a hot button issue and folks are recognizing that big money does not have a place in big government, it behooves us to notice when money controls our small town politics and has the potential to buy seats on our city council.

Who is behind this? Currently state records show that PAC members include Bill Heimann and Susan Wilson. Major contributors include Brian Gorham, Jeff Rinkoff, Coming Attractions Theaters, Darrell A. Boldt, Adroit Construction Company Inc., Robert W. Mayers, Gold and Gems, Chuck Butler, Sidney DeBoer, Dunagan Engineering Inc., Ashland Wine Cellar, Gerald Taylor, and Jo W. French.

Make no mistake about it, this PAC is divisive and does not promote our community values. The candidates who are being promoted would be wise to disengage themselves from the PAC, but even then it will be difficult to trust their motives, and we need a city government we can count on.

If you care about justice, join me in voting for candidates who share our values of fairness, opportunity and equality. Let's send a clear message that big money does not belong in Ashland elections.

Vanessa Houk