There is a lot riding on this election for our country and our community. Nationally, we will either elect the first female president or the first president who has not previously held political office or served in the military – two historically unique choices and two candidates that could not be farther apart in their respective visions for the country. Whether you believe Hillary Clinton will make us “stronger together” or Donald Trump will “make America great again,” you must agree that the winner will face an unprecedented challenge in accomplishing either goal due to the deep social and political divisions that have been exposed and exacerbated by the presidential campaign.

Locally, we have had our own fair share of divisiveness expressed primarily in relation to the regulation of cannabis cultivation and its attendant activities. Even if the cannabis industry is not legitimized locally by the passage of Measure D, it will continue to be legitimate under the county’s interim urgency ordinance. If passed, D would replace the county ordinance, but regardless of the Measure D outcome, the cannabis conundrum will continue.

If D fails, the fate of the interim ordinance and the proposed permanent ordinance for which it is a placeholder will rest in the hands of a reconfigured Board of Supervisors. After the election, there will definitely be two new supervisors and possibly four if there is a recall in District 5. There is a distinct possibility that there will not be the four votes necessary to continue the interim ordinance, which means work on the environmental impact report for the permanent ordinance will be suspended, and we will return to having no regulation of commercial cannabis.

Add to the mix that there will likely be a special election sometime after the first of the year on a measure to ban cannabis cultivation in the county. As I understand it, if Measure D passes, the ban measure must garner more votes than D in order to overturn D. However, if D fails and the supervisors do not extend the interim ordinance, which is one path to making cannabis cultivation illegal again, will the ban proponents still proceed with the ban measure? I’m betting that they will, because supervisors can change their minds and their votes. An initiative of the people can only be changed by the people, which would, of course, apply to either initiative, i.e., the ban or Measure D. Are you confused yet? I know I am.

There has been no shortage of opinion or vitriol surrounding the cannabis issue. Our local house is definitely divided, which is not surprising given our national divide. The devolution of discourse is apparent both nationally and locally. One has only to peruse the comments regarding cannabis on the Enterprise website to discover that civility is dead, spelling, grammar and punctuation have suffered heavy casualties and reason is running scared. Whatever became of the art of persuasion? It seems to have been replaced by fear mongering and intimidation, which is most often a polarizing reiteration of one’s own closely held prejudices. Plus, I don’t really think anyone has been persuaded by online comments. They are too partisan, too extreme and, well, just too snarky.

In addition to cannabis, Calaveras County faces divisions over the general plan update, environmental issues, the thrust of the local economy and what actually constitutes rural character. Cannabis, however, will remain immediate and controversial and it will impact the environment, economy and rural character. Cannabis truly does have the potential to be a game changer in Calaveras County. Anyone who disputes that hasn’t been paying attention. So where do we go from here? One thing is certain, we’re all on the same road headed for a future of our own making.

On this Election Day, I am not advocating for any particular candidate or any particular initiative. It’s too late anyway. You’ve probably already voted. I am advocating for a return to civility. I’m not asking you to agree with everyone – how dull. I’m simply asking that you be assertive but not aggressive. I’m asking you to listen with respect. And if you disagree, say so plainly and with the conviction that comes from a reasonable consideration of the alternatives. We just might be able to make America and Calaveras County great, because we are stronger together.

Muriel Zeller is a poet, writer, and Valley Springs resident. Contact her at murielzeller52@gmail.com.

0
0
0
0
0

Comment Policy

Calaveras Enterprise does not actively monitor comments. However, staff does read through to assess reader interest. When abusive or foul language is used or directed toward other commenters, those comments will be deleted. If a commenter continues to use such language, that person will be blocked from commenting. We wish to foster a community of communication and a sharing of ideas, and we truly value readers' input.