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Friday, October 31, 2008

County Commission Candidate Anderson Gets DUI Ticket

If the sentiments of my poll-takers in the right sidebar are any indication, the Lake County Commission race just changed from a five-man to a four-man race: Gene Anderson, Democratic candidate for the commission, was arrested for driving under the influence here in Madison last Friday.

Now an anonymous tipster sent me info to this effect Tuesday, and an anonymous commenter posted the same this morning. I prefer a little documentation over anonymous chatter, so I waited. Besides, I figured if it was true, it would hit the papers pretty quickly.

But I haven't heard any formal public mention of it yet. So finally today, I got a bunch of other matters crossed off my to-do list and visited the Clerk of Courts.

Yup. DUI ticket, first offense. Gene Oscar Anderson, Volga, SD. Friday, October 24. Officer Varilek also cited Anderson for open container and failure to dim headlights. Ordered to appear in court November 13th.

Now unless there's another 60-some-year-old Gene Oscar Anderson in Volga, voters have an interesting question: do you want to hire someone to run the county who has been charged with a crime similar to what led a Lake County deputy sheriff to resign last year? (See also the case of Roy Meyer, former Highway Safety director who resigned from his job in Pierre after a DUI arrest.)

Go ahead, accuse me of a rush to judgment, but alcohol and drinking and driving are a touchy subject with me. If I were a woman and a Christian, I'd probably be a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union ("Touch not the cup!").

Anderson just made my mind up: If Anderson's ticket is kosher (and you're really going to have to work hard to convince Officer Varilek is out framing political candidates), Anderson has just demonstrated a lack of judgment unacceptable for an elected official.

Drinking in excess is bad enough. Thinking you can drive while drunk and thus endangering others' lives is even worse.

But consider the political side: Suppose you are running for public office. You have a chance of winning, but you face some tough competition. You supposedly want to win and serve the public. It's less than two weeks before the election. You have to be either stupid or arrogant to think it's a good idea to go out, get drunk, and then drive home.

Innocent until proven guilty—indeed, Anderson will have his chance to demonstrate that he is neither stupid nor arrogant in court November 13. But the election is November 4. And I'm having a hard time picturing any positive circumstances that might explain Anderson's encounter with Officer Varilek just before midnight last Friday in any positive way.

Commenters, fire away. But unless I hear a compelling counter-story, my vote is set: Johannsen, Giles, Bohl.


  1. I think Anderson has every right to run, but I would have a hard time voting for someone who had just recently been arrested for DUI. My dad's dad was killed by a drunken driver.

  2. Early voting will assure Anderson of at least my vote. Better now I guess than a week after the election. jh

  3. A public official that represents any part of the city, county, state and national office should be very aware of public scrutiny. I personally believe that this is a big deal and shows little respect for the people he could be representing and himself. Drunk and driving is not acceptable from anyone. I'm glad it was a police officer that stopped him and not him hitting a car and killing someone. No excuse - getting a DUI is very poor judgment and sometimes the results are very sad.

  4. Gene is a respectable man who would be a great commission. Knowing Gene, he would personally think about every single vote he made as a commissioner and what would be best for Lake County. He loves this part of the state and would love to give back. DUI or no DUI, it doesn't matter, he would take more respect and responsibility as being a commissioner than anyone else. I’ll still proudly cast my vote for him.

  5. Gene Anderson is currently a member of the Lake County Zoning/Planning Commission. While he is considered innocent until proven guilty, county officials need to be held to a high standard as they are an example others should be able to look up to. Gene should probably withdraw from the County Commission campaign before we get another black eye from KELO TV publicity, and resign from the planning/zoning commission. We don't need more drinkers on the County Commission.

  6. Very interesting comment Cory.
    "Anderson has just demonstrated a lack of judgment unacceptable for an elected official". Is Mr. Anderson running for the presidency?
    I wonder if this same comment of yours applies to any other politicians?
    Or does a person's former affilliations not show "a lack of judgement".
    What you say Cory?

  7. To anon 10:27, don't blame TV reporters for giving you a black eye. There'd be no problem if they didn't have anything to report on.

  8. Exactly Steve Exactly!

  9. If you would like to join the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, we would love to have you as an Honory Member.
    Bunny S. Galladora, National WCTU

  10. Anon 8:38: I've said what I've said: In the midst of a campaign, Anderson has apparently demonstrated disregard for the law he wants to be elected to uphold, and arguably disregard for public safety. That demonstrates a lack of judgment that leads me to direct my vote elsewhere.

    I welcome you, Anon, to offer other scenarios to which a similar scenario might be applied.

    Affiliations (I think I know where you're going) are a different matter. You spend an awful lot of time with me here on this blog (and Anon, you are my most frequent commenter!) -- does your affiliation with an arguably radical leftist secular humanist like myself call into question your judgment? What does your affiliation with me (or anyone else) say about your judgment, and your ability to uphold the oath you might take as an elected official?

    Referring back to the specific case at hand: I find it much easier to think of positives and negatives to any hypothetical acquaintance; I find it very hard to find any positive light to shed on the actions that led to Mr. Anderson's arrest. Kearin's case rings hollow: I have a hard time squaring honor, respect, and responsibility with drunk driving. Anyone else care to make that case?

  11. If Anon 8:38 is trying to compare Obama's associations of his distant and recent past to a current DUI offense, there is no correlation between the two. While I'm no Obama fan, other than he's a decent orator, he hasn't been charged with a crime, Gene Anderson has been charged. How does our Lake County State's Attorney prosecute his potential future boss? That would be a little surreal. Gene Anderson and Obama are both Democrats, but that is where the similarity ends.

  12. I think DUI's are very serious...my sisters life ended because of a young man's choice to drive while under the influence...it isnt right for ANY one to drive while drinking or drugging. Polititions are supposed to be held up to a higher standard but watching Bill Janklow get away with MURDER made me think that justice is blind. My husband put a key in the ignition after walking out of a bar and got a DUI...thankfully he did not get a chance to start the car or drive because he had too much to drink, he had a harsher sentence for that DUI than Mr. Janklow did for his crime. So, I don't think we should stone Mr. Anderson for what he did. Let the courts do that, because there is truly only one judgement that really matters and that doesn't come until He calls you home!


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