Friday, July 17, 2020

Jon Wizard recall effort is political censorship

There is a petition drive now underway to recall Seaside city councilman Jon Wizard. The effort is being spearheaded by two former Seaside council members Helen Rucker and Darryl Choates, both of whom have conservative political leanings. Wizard tends to be more on the liberal side of things, and has openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. In the interest of full disclosure Wizard, Rucker, and Choates are all three black, so racism doesn't appear to be at play here.

I haven't followed Wizard particularly closely, but this recall effort gives me the creeps. As far as  I can see he has done nothing wrong. His only "offense" is that he has floated an idea to take some money from the Seaside Police Department budget (inaccurately called "defunding") and use it for other community programs that could help reduce crime. You may or may not agree with the idea, but it deserves a fair and open debate.

This recall effort strikes me as a way to prevent an open and honest discussion of the idea's merits and shortcomings. Since my mind is not made up on this issue, a successful recall effort will deprive people like me of the opportunity to hear both sides of the issue so we can make up my own minds.

It's not as if Wizard can implement his idea single-handedly. He still has to convince the rest of the city council and the public that it makes good use of limited public funds, an uphill battle for any new way of looking at things.

So this recall effort comes across as the political equivalent of a crucifixion, an extreme form of censorship. And as I like to say, advocating censorship is an admission that one's own belief system is too weak and fragile to withstand a few challenges.

But perhaps there may be something even more sinister going on here. You see, Wizard is running from a safe council seat to unseat the current mayor, Ian Oglesby, who, like Rucker and Choates, also leans conservative. Could it be that Rucker and Choates are merely trying to discredit Mr. Wizard in order to keep Oglesby in office?