Here at the end of the road, we like to think we can escape international and world politics. We live in a quaint little town where everyone knows each other and we all can get along. We’re neighbors who care for neighbors and can set aside our petty differences.
Yeah, like that worked out.
That ideal can be an achievable dream if we focus on what matters in Homer: taking care of each other. Getting there can be as hard as the mundane details of civic life, like building a new police station or finding a water and sewer rate structure everyone supports. OK, maybe we shouldn’t dream that big.
As the big story of 2017 — the attempted recall of three Homer City Council members — showed, we’re not immune from the drama of Washington, D.C., especially with a president who happily admits to enormous self confidence and bravado. The story unfolded like so:
• Homer liberals shocked at the reality of President Donald Trump rose up in defiance and organized a march of 900 people.
• A citizen activist wrote a draft resolution saying mean things about our glorious leader.
• Several council members sponsored a modified version of that resolution.
• Conservatives rose up in defiance.
The recall kerfuffle seems to have played out finally now that Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston ruled on the last motion still out there from Aderhold et al. v. City of Homer, the lawsuit filed by current council member Donna Aderhold and former council members David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds seeking to stop the recall election. Marston granted Heartbeat of Homer – Assembly Recall a partial victory when he said the plaintiffs had to pay part of the pro-recall group’s attorney fees. Showing the wisdom of King Solomon, Marston didn’t grant Heartbeat of Homer’s request for 75 percent of fees, and cut it to half the 20 percent allowed under state law.
Marston also allowed the recall election to proceed. The recall failed soundly and the council members kept their seats, though Lewis and Reynolds later chose not to run for re-election. The whole drama cost the city $18,000 to research the recall process, $42,000 to defend the election and $5,260 for the election itself — $65,437 total. As Lewis said during the recall campaign, “Democracy is messy.” It also can be expensive.
That’s the monetary cost. In goodwill among neighbors, many of us became bitter and angry. A lot of hate got spewed by both sides, some of it beyond contempt. As February controversies go, the recall pretty much broke the mold. It became more than a minor fracas born of cabin fever and endured into the summer.
We can do better. As we enter the New Year, and face another dark, gloomy winter, let us resist the temptation to stir the pot once again. As good citizens we can and should have opinions about national politics. What happens in D.C. affects us, yes.
But we live in Homer because we have found a community that cares. We’ll pull our neighbors out of the ditch even if their car has a faded Clinton or Trump bumper sticker. Our diversity and differences make us strong. Celebrate that, but don’t let it tear us apart. Go forward into the future, kindly, generously and with grace.