Guest opinion: The right question

  • Wednesday, December 16, 2020 1:30am
  • Opinion

“Is the Sequim City Council political?” asks the Dec. 9 guest opinion column (Sequim Gazette, page A-12). We would ask a different question: Are the politics of the Donnie Hall and Jim McEntire Independent Advisory Association (IAA) —and the council candidates they promote — civil and unifying, or divisive and exclusive?

Mr. Armacost’s attendance at the 2020 Sturgis rally was discussed in a city council meeting. When citizens expressed their unease with his visiting Sturgis, his refusal to quarantine on his return, and his claim that those who were concerned about COVID-19 were addicted to fear, council members Kincaid, Pence and Ferrell dismissed those concerns. He had a right to a personal life, they claimed.

Many citizens also expressed distress over the mayor’s using a Coffee with the Mayor event to promote QAnon, a conspiracy theory that cultivates antisemitism, calls for the eradication of “the elites” and considers the pandemic to be a hoax. He has a right to free speech, these council members said, while simultaneously dismissing distressed citizens, labeling them as Marxists or liberals.

That begs the question: Is it free speech for some but not all?

Was it “skulduggery” (unscrupulous or underhanded behavior, noted in the IAA’s Dec. 9 column) for Sequim citizens to react to the mayor’s attending Sturgis — a super-spreader event? Was Mr. Armacost transparent about his QAnon leanings when he ran for office?

As for “authoritarian bent,” another term IAA uses for those who may oppose their views, Mr. Armacost muscled through the appointment of Keith Larkin for the vacant council seat.

He used his position as mayor to direct the appointment to the applicant who matched his political agenda. His motion to nominate Larkin, call for a vote, and then have him sworn in without giving any other council members the opportunity to even put forth a nomination, went completely against precedent; the city clerk had to research on the fly to determine if it was legal.

Isn’t that an authoritarian act, or at least an abuse of his office? How did he know he could get away with going against precedent?

(Editor’s note: The motion and vote was deemed legal, city staff say; however, council members who are positions of leading meetings, such as board presidents or mayors, typically do not initiate motions. — MD)

IAA’s language —“elites,” “skulduggery,” “unencumbered citizens,” “ordinary citizens,” “those with an authoritarian bent” — otherise those who disagree with them and fan the flames of resentment against that other. Who are the elites who need to be dis-empowered? Who is an encumbered citizen? Who is an unordinary citizen?

IAA’s disingenuous language is divisive and incendiary. The candidates they promoted for Sequim City Council don’t live up to IAA’s purported goal—elected officials who put commitment to citizens above political agenda. Brandon Janisse and Dennis Smith, on the other hand, listen and respond to the concerns of the Sequim community.

Both of us have Sequim addresses outside city limits. Donnie Hall asserts that we are not constituents so should have no voice. Donnie Hall and Jim McEntire live outside city limits. Why do they tinker with the Sequim City Council?

Karen Hogan and Marsha Maguire are ordinary Sequim citizens.

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