McClellan: Is ‘Total Tea Party Takeover’ good for Gilbert? - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

McClellan: Is ‘Total Tea Party Takeover’ good for Gilbert?

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Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 5:12 am | Updated: 12:48 pm, Thu Sep 6, 2012.

While the tea party’s influence seems to wax and wane, in Gilbert, anyhow, it’s running the show, determined, apparently, for a Total Tea Party Takeover.

Take a look at who’s in office.

Our legislators? Eddie Farnsworth, Andy Biggs, and now, Warren Petersen, all tea party faves, all pledging fidelity to the tea partiers, even if they don’t actually mention that term.

And our Town Council? Ditto. While the Mayor at times is less than Tea, he often votes with the rest of the Council majority, all of whom share the tea party ideals, some even members of that group.

And now, in the upcoming general election, the Partiers seek to solidify their hold on Gilbert.

The lone non-Partier on the Council is John Sentz, a man who dares to think independently from time to time.

He is challenged by Jared Taylor, a charter school administrator with close ties to the tea party.

If Taylor defeats Sentz, and with tea party candidates running for the school board, all aspects of Gilbert government would be under the very strong influence of the tea party.

Which, if you’re a Partier yourself, is cause for celebration.

But what about the rest of the Gilbertites? Should we be partying in the streets?

Maybe not.

Let’s see what they’ve been up to in their current positions.

Andy Biggs and Eddie Farnsworth have been reliably pro-crazy bills and anti-education, apparently having no problem slicing the funding for education even as they vote for some of the most outrageous bills in an outrageous legislature, like voting for the Birther bill or the You Gotta Pay Some Tuition Even If You Get Financial Aid bill or the You Can Use A Silencer When You Hunt bill.

At the Town Council level, the tea party members have performed an interesting act of politic jujitsu: While they eliminate financial help for non-profits in our town, they create a fund to give to businesses and prospective businesses coming to our town. I believe the latter is called “corporate welfare” or “crony capitalism.”

Some of these folks are also members of the town’s Constitution Week organization, an organization that, until a few years ago, was happy to take town money to put on its festivities. Suddenly, though, these same men and women nix town funds to help the Boys and Girls Club.

Fortunately, the tea party has yet to control Gilbert Public Schools, one of the best districts in the state, if you go by test scores, student achievement, scholarships, college attendance and graduation rates. But there’s already one member of the board who’s tea party connected — Staci Burke. And others running, including Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith, clearly have those sympathies.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with tea party types making a run for office — more power to them. But a Town Council or a school board dominated by the Partiers would soon resemble what the state Legislature’s become — an echo chamber, where dissident thought is ignored, contrary opinion squashed, and lockstep behavior rewarded.

That is not healthy for our government or for our town.

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