Do the right thing: Hold the election | TheUnion.com
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Do the right thing: Hold the election

With the Grass Valley City Council poised in the coming year to make decisions involving four “special development areas” that could bring thousands of new residents into the county and involve millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money, it was with great sadness to see that only three people were willing to run for three open council seats.

In fact, it’s not just sad. It’s a travesty.

In a county whose residents profess to be so concerned about the impacts of growth – traffic, strains on public infrastructure, threats to property rights, damage to the environment – the fact there may not even be a city election on Nov. 2 with open debate on these issues is appalling to contemplate.



Even more troubling: Two of the candidates – Dean Williams and Lisa Swarthout – have gone before the voters before and have been rejected by them. And there is more than a hint of cronyism between a sitting councilman and one of the candidates to ensure there wasn’t a contest.

Councilman Steve Enos, who right to the end had strongly sworn his intention to seek re-election to anyone who would listen, withdrew from the race when former councilman Mark Johnson showed up at City Hall minutes before the filing deadline.




Now Enos is one of the members of a council that will decide in a special City Hall meeting at noon on Thursday whether there will be an election at all, or whether Williams, Swarthout and Johnson will simply be declared the winners.

The lack of an election at this time – the lack of an opportunity for voters to learn where the candidates stand and to vote for a write-in candidate if they decide they do not represent their views – would bring shame on our political system.

Enos, in setting up this scenario with his withdrawal, is confident “there were three people who will engage the community to develop a vision for Grass Valley’s future.”

We would rather each voter could make their own decision about that.

Johnson said after he filed: “I am a firm believer City Hall needs to engage the city and the public.”

If that’s true, then he – as well as Swarthout and Williams – should call on the City Council to do the right thing and let the election go on. If their visions for Grass Valley’s future are worthy, they will stand up to the rigors of a campaign.

To do anything less would go against everything a democratic society stands for.


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