Brian Hamilton: We can see clearly now, once again |

Brian Hamilton: We can see clearly now, once again

Ah … that’s more like it. Finally, some light sneaking in through the darkness.

Even if just a brief break, a moment to catch our breath and appreciate a sense of normalcy, like a bright beacon breaking through the haze that’s clouded our community in anxiety, angst and anger — and now actual violence — once again we caught a glimpse of what this place, at its very best, is all about.

The stench from that sickening scene that played out on the streets of Nevada City a few Sundays ago still stuck in the air with such shock, outrage and sadness that we were already choking up, well before the first lightning strike and cloud of smoke that filled the sky.

And even as we held our breath amid the lightning and thunder, awaiting word from scanner traffic or story update, the next tweet or, God forbid, an actual evacuation order, it was once again the usual suspects who grabbed our hands and offered some rays of hope.

There were our battalion chiefs, whose calm voices talked us, and walked us, through the battle plan at hand to keep our community from burning to the ground. There were our firefighters fast to the frontlines going toe-to-toe to cut off the blaze at the pass, with our Air Attack pilots overhead dropping retardant below to buy them time to do so. And there were our first responders going door to door to get us all out safely, and our seemingly never-ending army of volunteers offering them a soft landing at evacuation shelters upon arrival.

It’s these people, in these moments, that make us proud members of a community that pulls together when times turn tough, when our selfishness is left by the wayside to rally for our neighbors in need, and when we extend a helping hand without a thought of someone’s political perspective.

That’s also when we should recognize, as it’s all right there on display, that’s what it takes to work through these crises as a community. If only we’d realize when we’re not in true fight or flight moments, when we allow our own divisive words and actions so unnecessarily rip at the seams of our community, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words once again ring true as we so clearly see it’s only light that can drive out darkness and only love that can drive out hate.


Now that the deadlines for candidates filing have passed, we now know our options in choosing who will serve in our elective offices come November. And no doubt you’ve got an opinion about that. Rest assured, you’re not alone.

Each election cycle brings forth letters to the editor making the case for the candidates of your choice. To help provide enough space to publish as many of those opinions as we can, endorsements should be kept to the 200-word limit of a letter to the editor.

The deadline to submit election letters is 5 p.m. Oct. 23, as The Union will not accept any letters received after that date in order to publish those submitted by Saturday, Oct. 31, ahead of the Nov. 3 Election Day. Submit your letters, with your full name, area of residence, and a phone number via email at or through


Considering all the chaos we’ve been covering in our community in recent weeks, let alone the past six months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it was with great gratitude The Union got by with a little help from our friends in commemorating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment over the past week.

One hundred years ago on the day the amendment was finally ratified, we published a front-page piece by staff writer Victoria Penate, discussing the prominent role Aaron and Ellen Clark Sargent, and their hometown Nevada City, played in the women’s suffrage movement. On the opinion pages that same day, we published the perspective of their great-great grandson Bill Sargent, as well as a poignant piece by Editorial Board member Shanti Emerson aptly pointing out the impressive number of women who now serve in some of our community’s most prominent and powerful leadership roles.

In the days since, the Nevada County Historical Society kept the commemoration going by sharing the work of its members Bernie Zimmerman, who focused on Ellen Sargent Clark and her friendship with Susan B. Anthony, and Meg Curry, who wrote the entertaining and inspiring tale of Rough and Ready trailblazer Mamie Morrison. Authors Chris Enss (“No Place for a Woman: The Struggle for Suffrage in the Wild West”) and Mila Johansen (“From Cowgirl to Congress: The Journey of a Suffragist on the Front Lines”) each offered excerpts from their recently released books. And, of course, The Union’s history columnist Steve Cottrell came through with story of Aaron Sargent putting forth a bill to give Washington, D.C., women the right to vote all way back during the celebration of our nation’s first 100 years in 1876.

On Wednesday, Women’s Equality Day, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment being signed into law, staff writer Rebecca O’Neil talks with several of the women who now serve as our community leaders while looking back at those brave souls who fought for their right to cast a ballot, let alone have their name be on one.

As the dad of two daughters, this anniversary offered an opportunity to highlight our community’s connection to this historic moment for all American women, achieved through a grass-roots movement a century ago and resulting in real-life examples of women now leading us at the very top today. And I want to extend my gratitude for all of those who helped us commemorate it.

Participation of the people it serves is what puts the community in the pages of this newspaper each day.

And we are truly thankful for it.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at or 530-477-4249.

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