Incumbents endorsing incumbents

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee has endorsed a lifelong Democrat in the upcoming race for 5th District supervisor. But confusingly, some of our elected Democrats at the state and federal levels have endorsed a person who can be counted on to vote for business over community interests and is not even a Democrat. Why?

This is a point of contention for the volunteers who make up the local branch of the Democratic Party, the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) and other Democrats we know.

We understand and respect an American’s citizen’s right to support who they chose in any election, regardless of party. Incumbent legislators are not making these endorsements as our party representatives based on local issues, but as individual citizens with state and federal-level projects they are working on with the incumbents. And this is why, if you call their offices to get an explanation, staff members cannot speak with you about it. Even so, when high-profile elected representatives make these endorsements, they are walking a fine linebecause of the common perception that they represent their party’s choice.

During April’s HCDCC meeting there was overwhelming frustration from the room of approximately 20 Democrats and visitors. When asked if the central committee could take action, such as a public letter questioning their practice of making local endorsements with no input from the local committees, there was little support for a letter that would sound critical nor was there support for making such a letter public. Nevertheless, the problem remains that their strong local endorsement was not echoed by their elected legislators.

We feel that is a problem for democracy, especially in a rural area where it is difficult to find candidates willing to run for office, and where it is difficult for voters to vet candidates by policy and platforms rather than superficial characteristics and the familiarity of incumbency. Endorsements from officials and organizations should be, and in our experience are, important to individual voters especially since local races often do not get the type of media coverage they deserve.

Our elected Democrats should stand up for both democratic and Democratic principles. These are clearly stated in our state’s Democratic party platform, which is very strong on robust civic participation and equal opportunity for influence; natural and agricultural resource protection; land use planning to combat urban sprawl, climate change, and pollution; and clean drinking water as a basic human right.

An incumbent endorsing an incumbent who is not able to sign on to these principles should be called out. Our region needs long-term economic sustainability, which puts the health of the land, natural resources, and our communities above moneyed interests, and which needs continual support and advocacy.

When voting this June, please remember that our representatives at the state and national level do not necessarily know what is best for Humboldt County. Additionally, if you are among the frustrated Humboldt Democrats who are tired of our State and Federal legislators working against local Democrats, write or call to let them know. Politics should really be by and for the people, and some of our representatives do not seem inclined to change their practice of supporting the status quo without your input.

Jon Yalcinkaya resides in Eureka. Catherine Hanafi resides in McKinleyville