“So this is what decisive leadership looks like.”
That was the original opening sentence to last week’s editorial, and our opinion piece that praised the three new members of the Bainbridge Island City Council for following through on their campaign promise to pull the plug on the ugly and unneeded Highway 305 pedestrian/bicycle bridge.
That line never saw print, however, as the editorial went through a rewrite to tone down what we saw as overly enthusiastic appreciation for the council’s 305 bridge vote.
During that rewrite process, we came to the conclusion that a lot of council back-slapping wasn’t really appropriate. “We expect elected leaders to follow their campaign promises, don’t we?” was the thought. “So let’s not fall all over ourselves when they follow through on what they’ve vowed to do.”
It was a good edit, in hindsight, given the council’s backtracking and waffling this week on the 305 bridge. Two council members — Joe Deets and Sarah Blossom — flipped their votes from last week in a surprising about-face that has breathed new life into the “Bridge to Nowhere.”
It seems now on Bainbridge, as in national politics, we’re not supposed to take our leaders literally.
It’s apparently a view shared by some others not only on the dais but in the community: that vows made during the campaign can be cast aside when they become politically inconvenient.
We found it interesting at this week’s council meeting that Councilman Mike Scott, one of the bridge’s biggest boosters, recalled a conversation he had with other elected officials about the council’s rejection last week of the 305 bridge.
They were “quite dismayed,” Scott said, to learn that the city would reject possible grant funding of $2 million for the bridge.
If the council changes its mind on the grant, Scott said, “We will lose credibility and standing.”
That may be so. Can you just imagine how embarrassing it must be, for one politician to have to admit to another that he or she had said “no thanks” to outside money that would help fund a project, however useless? Oh, the horror.
Much better, it must be, to stay in the good standing of your fellow politicians, than to think about the loss of credibility, standing and respect that one would get from his or her constituents.
Maybe, the line of thought probably goes, voters will forget about it before the next election.
But on this one, we’re guessing Bainbridge voters they won’t.