Voting for candidates instead of political partiesNov 03, 2022 01:45PM ● By Bryan Gray
The editor of an election magazine sighs. “Somewhere in the past 20 years, compromise became a dirty word,” he says. A Republican strategist agrees. “We’ve gotten to the point,” says Glen Bolger “where you’re either voting for the red team or the blue team.” Extreme partisanship has taken over.
That’s why I was heartened last week during a trip to the Bay Area to read that more liberal Democratic-leaning cities were working with Republican-oriented business communities to reach fair, equitable compromises on tax increase proposals. Generally, business owners and their representatives fight tooth-and-nail against any tax increase, threatening to fold up their tent and move to more tax-friendly states and communities.
But according to an analysis in an Oakland daily newspaper, “It appears carefully-crafted compromises with the business communities have helped ward off strong opposition to new taxes across the region.”
In Palo Alto, for instance, a levy on square footage of office buildings was pared down after meetings with employers who agreed not to oppose the tax which still could cost large companies as much as $500,000 annually. The result: $8 million additional for affordable housing and public safety.
In Los Gatos, the home of Netflix, the city council passed a business licensing tax mostly applicable to a mere handful of companies. Said the mayor, “We told them what we were trying to do and they told us what they thought would be acceptable. We don’t want to scare businesses from our town.”
Likewise, in Santa Clara city officials involved business leaders in modernizing a “head count” tax based on the number of employees, a formula that hadn’t been updated for 30 years. A regional anti-tax group applauded the city for “taking input very seriously” when developing the plan.
Too bad Congress can’t take the same vision. In fact, one of the only true leaders in the U.S. Senate is Sen. Mitt Romney who championed compromise in a visit to a Utah community last week. Touting passage of Pres. Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Sen. Romney – one of only a few Republicans voting for it – noted that Utah was already benefitting from the initiative to modernize roads, bridges, transit, and broadband.
“A group of Democrats and Republicans came together and said, ‘Hey, let’s cut back the couple of trillions of dollars…let’s cut it to about one-quarter of that size and focus on real things we need to do.’ We were pretty proud of being able to work together.”
If we all heeded the wisdom of aging rock stars (“You can’t always get what you want,” sings Mick Jagger) and stressed compromising instead of demonizing, we would indeed, as Jagger says, “get what you need.” One way to do this is voting for candidates instead of political parties.
In November, I’m voting for several Republicans, one Democrat, and an Independent. That’s my contribution to effective governance. And, if elected, these candidates refuse to compromise, I’ll vote to put someone else at the table next election.
Bryan Gray, a long-time Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front. λ