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.
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