Lynn Woolsey was in her home city news today at Petaluma360.com for breaking with her usual practice of neutrality in local races and endorsing three candidates for city council. The three are David Glass, for mayor, and Teresa Barrettt and Jason Davies. Whether an endorsement from the congresswoman is a career booster is questionable. I suppose ordinarily, in a heavily Democratic area, it would be a boon to a candidate. However, this year, when members of Congress have done little to please their constituencies (I’m going to write another post about that right after this one), perhaps it will be less of an advantage to have her declare for you. Her support suggests that these three council candidates might share some or all of Lynn Woolsey’s progressive ideas. Teresa Barrett’s website would seem to confirm this. Among her endorsements is one from “Progressive Democrats Sonoma County.” Same for Jason Davies
David Glass’ campaign website doesn’t include an endorsements section. Interestingly, his two chosen banner qualifications are Proven Leadership and Fiscal Responsibility. He states on his Q&A page that
There is only one way to balance a budget. That is to match expenditures to revenues. At this time it is important to monitor revenues regularly and spend each dollar as if it is the last dollar we have and prioritize expenditures to delivering vital services such as police and fire protection.
This is a very responsible viewpoint and also one that in this day and age appeals to voters. One can hardly expect a hopeful candidate, no matter what their political philosophy, to say, “I believe in deficit spending — it’s the thing to do. ” Glass does endorse Petaluma’s 2010 budget decision to reduce city reserves to “near zero” in order to save jobs. But that is as far he is willing to go — at least in words, and hopefully (presumably?), in actions.
Lynn Woolsey’s comments about these candidates did not mention fiscal responsibility. Instead she said,
We need leadership that will improve our local economy and produce jobs, plan for and invest in critical infrastructure, protect the environment and represent the public’s interest.
“Improve our local economy and create jobs.” But how exactly? By encouraging private sector jobs? Petaluma’s city council does work to attract large stores such as Target and Friedman Brothers. However, Lynn Woolsey is focused on creating jobs through federal money.
Case in point: part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies was used to fund 400 jobs for low-income Sonoma county residents. For nine months. It began in January and funding will cease this month. It remains to be seen whether these jobs will cease to exist without federal funding, whether they will get more federal funding, or whether any of them will continue with funding from the actual entities (non-profit organizations, public agencies and private companies) where these workers were placed. With the economy still as unenergized as it is, my guess would be that these jobs will dry up and the people in them will be unemployed again.
Lynn Woolsey’s reliance on government will not make our local economy in Sonoma and Marin counties improve over the long term. In fact, it will only worsen our long-term outlook. And short-term jobs funded with borrowed or just printed federal dollars also do not support a long-term healthy economy here.
So, Lynn Woolsey is right that we need “leadership that will improve our local economy and produce jobs.” And perhaps the three Petaluma city council candidates, if indeed elected, will find a way to do that and be fiscally responsible too. But to be successful, they should be far less dependent on government money than Lynn Woolsey has been. I hope they can view the economic realities with far clearer eyes than the woman who has just endorsed them.