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When local politics go national

Local political factions in our town often seek favorable major media coverage on local issues. If a local controversy makes national news, one local political faction may come off in a bad light while another basks in the limelight. 

Of course, the political faction bruised in the battle often accuses the opposing faction that won the public relations contest of self-promotion damaging the image of the entire community. That was true after the recent cop car graphics story went more viral than many locals realize. 

However, instead of taking sides with local factions my liberal and conservative friends around the country and overseas mostly found it endearing that Laguna once again was wrestling with its local version of left-right political dichotomies.

Seems the old adage may be right, as long as our town’s name is spelled right it’s all good.

For example, in 2017 an Antifa/Altright showdown was staged downtown. Mayor Iseman stepped up with competence and courage no other recent mayor has displayed. Her leadership keeping order despite violent and vile behavior of some was the real story that day.

Similarly, attempts to shame Councilman Blake for masterful television interviews on multiple national networks about the cop car debate were sour grapes. Political professionals from LA to Washington across the partisan spectrum praised Blake for clearly articulating the merits of his positions with both passion and reason.        

Agree with them or not, the reality is that both Iseman and Blake are keeping promises to voters. And both were top vote getters in the 2018 mid-term despite being outspoken on controversial local issues.

We should be able to step back from our personal political biases just enough and take some civic pride that our local political issues sometimes become part of the national political and moral narrative. Understanding the interplay of local and national politics is an important civics lesson, especially in presidential election years.

As 2020 looms over the horizon, local political factions suddenly are all abuzz about making national party affiliation and platforms the litmus test for nonpartisan candidates seeking nonpartisan local offices.

We get it, but there’s a reason city council and school board seats aren’t contested in political party primaries. It’s because our constitutional process for consent of the governed is bottom up not top down. Before 2020 fever strikes, we need a dialogue about preserving the integrity of nonpartisan local elections.

If interested, stay tuned.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach