Karen Nelson checks in today with a great article that examines the aftermath of Tuesday’s primary elections in Jackson County, which despite the overall low voter turnout resulted in change in County Government. Karen gives credit to the scrappy group of SRHS retirees that will not go away quietly without answers along with accountability for the disaster that has resulted from a coordinated campaign of lies literally stretching over a period of years:
The tight-knit group handed out thousands of fliers, talked to voters, took out advertisements, picketed the hospitals and lawyers’ offices. They became good at giving interviews to the media and religiously attended Jackson County Board of Supervisors meetings to speak out about what they thought was fair and ask for answers as to why the county-owned system failed them and the community.
“I think people in the county were very upset about this,” Kitty Aguilar said Wednesday after the election. “It was unbelievable in most people’s minds that this would go on — the pension plan and how it was dealt with, and that county supervisors didn’t man up, take it straight on and deal with it.”
This brings me to another point because there has been a debate in comments as to whether or not the campaign teams hired by certain candidates in Jackson County actually met the definition of a professional political coms consultant, the majority of the commenters thinking not. For my part I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few folks over the years that actually qualify having spent a lifetime practicing the dark arts in the Louisiana political arena. A few of these folks could probably have taught Machiavelli a thing or two and that reminds me of a comment I left back in May which is based on the wisdom of one such professional political operative from the other side of the Pearl River:
Local politics is all about pleasing the proverbial chronic voter. The chronic voter is typically grey that has extra time on their hands to engage in political activity like going to Board meetings or manning a picket line.
Since Chronic voters are Grey, they also have a lifetime of social contact with the community which means they are a big influences on what I’d term the marginal voter, which is that part of the electorate that turns out to vote only part of the time.
In 2010 about 28,000 voters turned out of the total voting age population of about 100,000. My guess is somewhere about 18-20 thousand of the total would fit the demographic of a chronic voter. Also in that demographic are close to 3,000 SHRS plan participants.
This is all a long winded way of saying that the County Board of Sups has written off somewhere around 10% of the total vote straight out of the gate. It is not an election winning strategy IMHO.
The advice the Sups heeded which in turn lead to my making that comment did not come from a political coms professional or a seasoned political operative IMHO. I think the Sups actions were based on the advice of a lawyer. If an elected official did what was best for their constituents over their own electoral self interest such would be a rarity in my opinion though it does happen on occasion.
To the extent the Board of Sups was never able to regain the trust of the SRHS retirees is meaningful to that analysis because heeding pure legal advice led to political suicide for two Sups with two more in runoffs. To the extent the SRHS pension disaster could have been handled in a far different manner it is hard not to conclude that the Jackson Board of Supervisors have been nothing more than the little dutch boys trying to plug leaks in a levee they did not create in a fools errand exercise that ended with the voters tossing them out.
I imagine one of the worse case scenarios for a politician is having to put out major brush fires caused by the very folks the got you elected. There is a lesson in what happened for those that are politically minded in Jackson County.
Finally a comment bump from John Rodgers: