On this blog, once on the street, and a couple of times at the Mateel general meeting the other night – I’ve been approached by friends and supporters of Estelle Fennel who are disappointed and even frustrated because I’m supporting Clif Clendenen’s run for Second District Supervisor. After all, he’s more moderate (less progressive) than Estelle, and he’s an outsider. I’ve teamed up with Estelle on a number of occasions. She (and Kathleen) and I were on the same side of some KMUD politics about a year ago. And she and I have shared a certain impatience with local progressive politics which sometimes manifests itself as an odd blend of pretentious radical politics and xenophobia. And contrary to her image with some people as a devout follower of People Productions, she and I shared disappointment with much of the community’s embracing of the violent homophobia of Buju Banton a year ago. And contrary to other progressive figures, she has broadened her campaign base well beyond the usual suspects, directly addressing some of the very criticisms I’ve leveled at other progressive candidates.
So why do I continue to support Clif when a bona fide progressive has entered the race? A woman who is not only a friend of mine, but politically nuanced in so many of the ways I demand in a candidate?
Well, it’s simple really. I want Rodoni out of office, and I want public process to contain the big box proposals which are swirling around Fortuna and which make the current Balloon Track development proposal look a hay bail construction project. The Wal-Mart vision defeated in Eureka just before the millennium is quietly making its way through the works and could alter the county in a profoundly negative manner. Clif has been at the center of the issue, and his leadership presents the best opportunity to bring some sanity into the process. He understands Fortuna politics, and has the best formula for defeating Roger. And he has a great team behind him.
I’ve promised that I would keep an open mind as the campaign moves forward. I don’t see eye to eye with Estelle on the Reggae controversy, and I’m critical of some of her coverage, but it’s not a difference of views which amount to a voting issue for me for anything other than Mateel Board. I would vote for her in a minute if she could defeat Rodoni and demonstrate the leadership which is going to be necessary to reign in a rather overzealous development vision to our north. Rodoni views it as municipal and out of his political jurisdiction and thus beyond any reasonable call for his leadership. It’s a nice way of saying that he supports the right of developers to do as they please regardless of the impact on the community.
That’s a key issue for me in this campaign. Estelle has yet to address it, and other issues of concern for me. She would have to convince me that she can beat Rodoni one-on-one in a run-off. Despite the changes in the Fortuna electorate, I just don’t see the numbers, no matter how many emergency service folk back her. I’m sorry if you perceive my skepticism as fatalism. But we do have something to lose in an election in which Rodoni may finally be vulnerable. But I have been plugging Clif since he first sent out feelers months ago. I will continue to push for him until my mind is changed. If Estelle wins a place in the run-off I will certainly support her over Rodoni.
Meanwhile, Ernie makes a great case to dispell vote-splitting fears. While I am supporting another candidate, I’m glad Estelle is in the race. There is more to life than Reggae.