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Our Opinion: Countywide supervisors?

April 10, 2002

We just could be happy with the dramatic dip in the unemployment rate in this county in recent months and not do anything to make a still high rate even lower.

We can't afford complacency right now, but even more, we can't afford provincialism in our county.

Which leads us to our county Board of Supervisors. We quite regularly hear of certain of our county supervisors and other county leaders saying when a new project is proposed, "But if this goes in there, what will I get for my district?"

Such an attitude will never propel this county into the overall economic condition its hard-working citizens deserve. Our county leaders need to think on a countywide basis. If we want more projects like the Brawley Beef plant, which took a big bite out of unemployment numbers, we need more elected officials in this county thinking about the good of the county as a whole, not about their particular districts or what they see as their particular constituencies.

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If elected officials in El Centro or Calexico had started whining about their piece of the pie when the Brawley Beef plant was proposed, the whole thing might have been derailed. Thank goodness they didn't.

One group of county leaders does consistently think about the county as a whole and that group is the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors. That board in recent years has had a forward-thinking group of directors who seem to look as the entire district as their constituency, and the result has been a board that has tried to protect our interests and advance the county in general economically.

We think one key to why this board has such a wide vision is the directors are selected by countywide voting (although some have tried to install district voting for IID in recent years, an idea rejected by voters both times it was proposed). Maybe it is time the county supervisors were elected by a countywide vote. If it is not legal to do so now, maybe we can make it legal.

Maybe then the supervisors would expand their view. Maybe then we would get the same quality of individuals that we have on the IID board and in high-ranking IID positions. Maybe then some lingering projects in the county could be finished.

We don't want to paint all the supervisors with the same brush. Some appear to have the county's overall wellness as their main goal. Others, though, seem to think first and foremost of their district and their small group of core supporters.

Whatever needs to be done to change that tunnel vision should be done sooner rather than later.

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