In our scheme of government, we elect representatives to take a stand on issues that affect their constituents. Among those representatives, leaders take a stand. Politicians don’t.
Leaders study the issues and decide what policy best supports the interests of their constituents as a whole. Politicians take a position based on what is best for the advancement of their own interests.
As I approach the end of my first term as a Washougal Councilman, I note the number of times a small minority has encouraged the council to avoid taking a stand on issues by stopping the conversation. Sometimes it is done with parliamentary maneuvers limiting debate, tabling an issue, or refusing to let an issue come forward for consideration.
Sometimes the attempts are more subtle, trying to pressure council members to avoid an issue because it might be “controversial,” or beyond the scope of the city’s authority, or its consideration “an embarrassment.” Other factors also work to limit discussion.
In addition to the debate limiting and pressure tactics, the Washington Open Public Meetings Act limits discussion among council members to ensure that decisions are made only at public meetings. That limitation increases the importance of debate at public meetings. Let’s have that debate.