Pam Williamson is the de facto head of the Watauga County Democratic Party. Prominent among her many activities is writing “Pam’s Picks” every election season. Her website offers her views on all of the races on the ballot, and near the polling stations you’ll always find a replica of her sample ballot showing her chosen candidates. A self-declared progressive, many of similar leanings welcome her Picks, as it saves them time researching especially the down-ballot races.
However, in this Boone Town Council race, objectivity is apparently secondary — now it’s about Pam supporting her allies, and keeping her base of power secure. In other words, supporting Local Political Business as Usual.
The town council has three open seats and four candidates running. Voters can vote for up to three, so somebody has to go under the bus. Certainly not Loretta Clawson, Pam’s long-time ally and BFF.
Not Virginia Roseman — she’s seemingly recruited to run by the party and is counted on to be in sync with Loretta and Pam’s other main ally, councilman and former town attorney Sam Furgiuele.
Dustin Hicks is a student at ASU, and after all the efforts to register some 3,000 students this season, it can’t be Hicks.
That leaves Nancy LaPlaca.
In her Picks, Pam writes: “At first blush, candidate LaPlaca impresses as a solid choice for seat on the Town Council.”
Most anyone else taking a second or third look at LaPlaca’s credentials and priorities would likely conclude that she’s a great choice! She has a law degree, worked as staff for two Democratic congresspersons, and served four years as Policy Advisor to an AZ Public Utilities Commissioner. In her take-down of LaPlaca, Pam oddly devotes a large portion of her rationale to singing councilman Furgiuele’s praises in the sustainability realm even though he’s not on the ballot. We don’t need experts when we have Sam? She then notes that LaPlaca resigned from the town planning board shortly after joining it, and wonders if this is an indication that LaPlaca won’t have interest in or carry through with other aspects of the council’s business outside of energy and sustainability. But then, considering that all but one member of the previous version of the planning board resigned from this commission, one might wonder about the atmosphere in this group, and the town council in general.
Pam concluded her assessment: “LaPlaca is an experienced and impressive advocate for her issue. She should be running for state or national office.”
Boone is littered with involved citizens and former town council members who fell out of favor with Pam Williamson. Small “d” democracy is certainly not well served by one person effectively picking the Democratic Party’s preferences. Perhaps it’s time for Pam to take something akin to her own advice for Nancy LaPlaca — stick to picking in state and national races. There her observations are more objective, and her own allies aren’t on the ballot running against new blood who have valuable experience and expertise.