Writings and observations

Oregon impact

In Idaho we’ve from time to time run surveys and posted lists of the most influential Idahoans of the year just past and months just ahead, lists usually topped by the likes of governors and senators.

Were you to do a similar exercise in Washington state, only extend it out to the last 10 to 20 years, here’s the top name you’d almost certainly come up with: Tim Eyman, the initiative king, who has had his share of losses as well as wins but probably has driven more politics in the state than anyone else.

And Oregon? A little less obvious, but it seems to adhere to the Washington track, at least to judge from one opinion-trawling effort.

Les AuCoin, the former congressman, has posted on his blog the query, “Who had the most impact on Oregon in the last 10 years?”

Of the responses received so far, the dominant names are three associated with initiative actions: Don McIntyre, who pushed through the tax-cutting Measure 5 in 1992, and Bill Moshofsky and David Hunnicutt of Oregonians In Action, who pushed through the land use Measure 37 in 2004.

Is the mere fact that such people – not elected officials, but gadfly-activists – are the main pushers of policies in these states? What would be the reasons underlying that? Comments welcome.

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One Comment

  1. Sharon Ullman said:

    Being in Idaho, I only know a little about the initiatives that have been sponsored by the “influential” people referenced in your post. I do, though, think that it is doing the public a disservice to label concerned citizens “gadfly-activists”. That term has such a negative connotation, and makes it sound like citizen involvement in government is a bad thing.

    The more citizen involvement there is, the more likely our elected and appointed officials will be held accountable and actually represent the public, rather than just represent lobbyists and well-financed special interests.

    I DO understand that the people backing the initiatives also tend to have money on their side. BUT, iniative backers can’t get anywhere without registered voters who sign their petitions and vote for their causes.

    The term I prefer for those of us private citizens who try to keep track of our government officials is “public advocates”. There can be personal agendas involved, but many public advocates just participate because we feel a sense of responsibilty. A good example is David Frazier, whose http://www.BoiseGuardian.com blog has already made a big difference in local politics in Idaho after just over a year in existence.

    As Lily Tomlin said, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”

    Have you done your share today?! 😉

    July 2, 2006

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