Fighting the tide

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Last month, an Independent cover depicted a herd of stampeding elephants (see “Red Tide,” Nov. 11, 2010). It referred to the recent ouster of Democratic Party incumbents here in Ravalli County and the 14-for-14 race victory of Republican candidates over Democrats and Libertarians.

I disagreed with the Independent article. It referred to the voters as fickle and stated, “It’s enough to make you wonder if the seemingly schizophrenic American electorate needs a collective head exam.” The writer apparently views voters who rejected the Democratic Party as perhaps psychiatrically impaired. Ravalli County Commissioner Carlotta Grandstaff was quoted stating, “There’s a little bit of thinking that this is what the voters wanted, that they had no idea what they were voting for and now they are going to get it.”

The writer makes a great deal out of the election of Mary Hudson-Smith over Joanne Johnson for County Treasurer. Apparently Hudson-Smith has always been a Democrat, but ran as a Republican in the recent election. Hudson-Smith shrugged off any alleged duplicity on her part by saying that she has never considered herself anything, but when it came to running for office she said, “You can’t very well run as nonpartisan, you have to choose something.” That is a questionable statement.

I ask, so what? In over 50 years of voting, I can’t remember any election in which candidates voted for a name on the ballot. If anyone wants information about a judge who is up for retention they have to dig for it. How many judges does the writer think have been retained when voters knew nothing about them?

Carlotta’s remarks in the article about conservation easements are very revealing. Easements ultimately put property under the control of government. Wilderness areas serve the same purpose. The federal government owns more of Montana than it should. Many Rocky Mountain states are questioning that situation.

I believe the reason for the “Red Tide” in Ravalli County is a radical environmentalist, Stewart Brandborg. He has controlled politics in Ravalli County for at least a decade. Brandborg leads a small, vocal group of activists. He has manipulated the political system and put policies in place that do not reflect the wishes of most people in the Bitterroot.

The “Red Tide” resulted from the rage Bitterrooters feel toward Brandborg. The benefactor of the Democrats in Ravalli County brought them down. Demeaning those voters is a mistake that Stewart made on more than one occasion.

Gene Williams

Hamilton

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