I have always loved the political signs that come out before elections. Colorful signs with upbeat messages illustrate how many people are willing to step up to run for public office. That's a positive thing in our democracy. When I was a kid in Virginia, most had to do with federal elections. Here most signs are about local elections.
So seeing the vandalism of John Inks' signs really bothers me. In elections, we are supposed to be able to talk civilly about what we care about in our community. Perspectives always differ, but it's good to have the issues identified and hear how people feel about them. Having a civil dialogue during the election is healthy. There are many things that intelligent people do not agree on.
This vandalism is just mean. It turns John Inks into someone who is being picked on, someone who isn't being treated properly. For most of us, that causes us to feel sorry for him. And of course, that is likely to translate into more people voting for John Inks. Somehow, I doubt that was the desired outcome of the tagger.
I want this election to be about the major issues that are facing our community, like housing in the North Bayshore, traffic reduction, the best way to solve the RV issue and how we are going to meet our greenhouse gas emission goals. I don't want it to be about petty things like who defaced whose signs.
So tagger, whoever you are, knock it off. Put your paint can away. Please channel that energy into positive stuff that you can do in the daylight. Write a letter to the editor, precinct walk for a candidate you do support or volunteer for a local charity.
One of the things that has characterized Mountain View politics over the years is a high level of civility. As someone who attended council meetings and other community meetings at a variety of cities in the course of doing my job, I can tell you this is not the case everywhere. At our council meetings, people are treated cordially. Whether you are speaking during public comment, testifying about a specific item or one of the council members, you get to have your say without anyone calling you names or making fun of you. On the rare occasions when people break our custom of civility, they are asked to speak with respect. It usually works. The payoff of this custom of civility is all around us. Think of all the things that Mountain View has been able to accomplish.
I have asked all the candidates who are running for City Council to sign this editorial and they all agreed. We condemn the vandalism of campaign signs. They are part of our First Amendment right of free speech. Let's do what's right for Mountain View! Let's make this election about the issues.
Pat Showalter is a City Council member running for re-election this November along with incumbent Lenny Siegel and candidates Alison Hicks, Ellen Kamai, Lucas Ramirez and former council member John Inks.