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Business candidates bring ideas into politics

By   /   Friday, June 5th, 2009  /   Comments Off on Business candidates bring ideas into politics

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One of the remarkable things about the dismal state of California’s fiscal affairs is that businesspeople of many political persuasions are not twiddling their thumbs or burying their heads in the sand.

The proliferation of candidates from the business community bodes well for the region’s future economic health. Anyone who has run a business or even a nonprofit knows that at the end of the day, payroll must be met or your employees won’t show up on Monday morning.

Yes, there are credit lines and other measures to patch you through if the checkbook is a bit light; but when it comes right down to it, money borrowed today has to be paid back tomorrow.

That is something our politicians at the state level and, in some cases the local level, seem to have forgotten in recent years. There simply is not an endless supply of capital for government, nor is there an endless amount of tax revenue coming from consumers and businesses.

There is a delicate balance between what’s coming in and what’s going out — and that’s true both for businesses and government.

We’ve always appreciated the businessperson-turned-politician model that has worked well for folks such as Sam Blakeslee, Abel Maldonado and Frank Mecham in San Luis Obispo and North Santa Barbara County.

That tradition continues with Etta Waterfield of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber entering an assembly race along with Mike Stoker, an established political figure with pro-business ties.

It is refreshing to see a number of people running for office in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties who have a business sense. The trickle started last year with Sylvia Schnopp’s surprisingly strong race for Port Hueneme City Council and John Zaragoza’s successful run for Ventura County Supervisor. This year’s crop of business candidates includes Santa Barbara Chamber chief Steve Cushman, who has finally made the decision to run for mayor, and attorney Jeff Gorrell now running for Audra Strickland’s assembly seat in Ventura County.

Running for office, rustling up votes, fending off pesky media types and making endless appeals for money is not easy. It may make running your average business look like a walk in the park.

But once in office, businesspeople tend to run government more or less like a business. For California’s future, that’s not a bad thing at all.

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