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By Diana Diamond

A Voter Warning from a Wise Friend

Uploaded: Nov 18, 2019

“Do not be a single-issue voter,” a wise friend once told me. “Elections are too important to waste your vote just because you may agree with a candidate on one issue.”

He was right.

Why do I bring this up now, a year before the presidential election? Because we are playing compare and contrast with the dozen or so Democratic candidates, while at the same time wondering whether the GOP will even allow a Republican to run against Trump. In California, would-be runners for state offices are surfacing, and by spring, local city council candidates will start sprouting up.

Let me provide a hypothetical example of the danger of voting for a candidate because of his stance on a particular issue. Next month Trump, anxious about his re-election, will reverse his position on climate change, admitting it was not a hoax but rather a very real concern and he will say he’ll do everything he can to help control CO2 emissions. A lot of people, especially environmentalists, would be delighted and may decide they will vote for Trump in 2020, believing he will work to protect our waterways, forests and oceans, cut down on coal production, push for higher fuel emission standard and agree plastic straws are environmentally bad.

Now protecting our planet is extremely important. But a president also has a variety of other responsibilities. There’s always the economy to worry about, and jobs, and providing health care at reasonable costs -- and foreign relations. The president is in charge of what is happening between the U.S. and North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Israel and China. His tariffs are affecting the economy and hurting U.S. farmers.

So if one is a single-issue voter, what about all these other issues a president has to cope with during four or eight years in office?

And while my wise friend said don’t be a single-issue voter, I will add: Don’t dismiss a candidate because of a single issue. For example, some people say they will not vote for Michael Bloomberg because of his previous stand on stop-and-frisk, which, unfortunately targeted minorities, not whites. But Bloomberg’s for a lot of things, including gun control and acting on climate change, issues that may be more important than his stance on stop and frisk.

I have the same single-issue-vote concern on local matters. In Palo Alto traffic has continued to be the main problem, but no one quite knows what to do about it or how to reduce traffic on all our clogged roads. Sure, a candidate will crop up who will declare s/he wants to solve our traffic problems. Don’t vote for them on just that statement until you find out what the magic solution is.

More affordable housing is also a big concern, and I predict a couple of candidates will call for more housing for everyone. Fine, but how will that affect traffic and what is their solution?

But city council members also vote on other issues. We have the highest general fund we’ve had in years, thanks to escalating housing prices producing higher property tax revenues going into city coffers. But it seems that anytime a new to-do project comes along, council members look to raise more taxes from residents and businesses. That’s one issue we should all look at in judging a candidate.

Another is getting things done faster in town – it’s been almost 10 years since a bicycle bridge across Highway 101 was approved, but building the bridge has not even started. Ditto for work on the possible flooding of the San Francisquito Creek and the Chaucer Bridge. After a decade, where are the solutions?

Or traffic flow around town. The Charleston–Arastradero road east-west passageway in clogged during commute times, but I don’t see council talking about that problem. And residents have been promised for a decade now that the Embarcadero Road-El Camino Road intersection traffic delays will be solved. They haven’t been.

So we have to look to candidates who have views we agree with on a number of issues like this, not just affordable housing, or traffic or spending city money properly.

As I said at the start, elections are a year away. But oftentimes voters make up their minds way before elections, and once a mind is made up, it’s hard to change one’s mind. So be aware now of my wise friend’s warning.