A telling, yet perplexing fact, is how often our aspirations collide with our actions.
Drive through a subdivision and read the street signs. How many people live on Peach Blossom Road with no peach trees in sight? At one point the Sikes family lived on Oak Grove Lane sans the oak grove.
So often the peach orchard or the oak grove fall to the blade of construction. And almost as often our more pastoral aspirations fall to the siren song of growth without carefully considering costs.
Paradoxically, many of the states or communities that measure up to our aspirations are where job growth occurs. If fighting job growth or population expansion were effective, Oregon would be experiencing a decline in both. The Sunbelt is said to have experienced growth because it is a more enjoyable place to live.
Talbot County is an enjoyable place to live. There are still orchards and groves of trees and waterfront parks and natural refuges and pleasant roads. And in the more developed part of our county — the economic zones — there is investment and new jobs. Entrepreneurs and investors have opted to increase jobs here, even though there are tax free zones that in a strict profit and loss calculation are more attractive.
The election this year — less than a month away — will influence, if not determine, which path we choose.
If the view is that job growth will be best served by more development, regardless of the risk to our natural assets, vote for the status quo. If the legacy of nature and nurturing leadership is the better way, then go back and forth across the ballot. Indeed, in my view, there is not a Republican or Democrat way forward on local issues.
I am still paying attention to what the candidates are saying, but I intend to vote for the Republican, Laura Price and the Democrat, Pete Lesher. Both have served and I can look at their records. And both understand that Talbot County’s future health depends on both a sound economic model and protection of the extraordinary gifts of nature and history.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.