In a representative government, the people should vote for a representative that will represent the wants, needs and desires of that voter.

If, like me, you have been hearing the ads on the radio for Chris Johnson, who is running for Pullman City Council Ward 1, you are probably wondering what he stands for.

In reference to the radio ads, I got the feeling Johnson is anti-development. In general, terms such as “smart growth,” “intelligent growth” and “responsible development” are euphemisms. When they are used in an ad for a candidate it can be telling. Is Johnson against people having the freedom use their property how they see fit? I don’t know, but based on things heard in the some of the ads, I am left wondering.

Any voter who is willing to vote for or against a candidate based on a 60-second radio commercial is doing a disservice to the ballot. This is just as bad as someone who votes for a candidate based on a single issue.

Going to the websites provided by each candidate is usually a good starting point. Well, that was a waste of my time. Johnson doesn’t give real answers. Instead he gives abstract concepts. For example, he states, “We need to support the efforts and resources of law enforcement,” but never say anything about how to support the efforts.

Pullman City Council Ward 1 incumbent Ann Parks’ website is even less helpful in finding out where she stands on specific issues.

On Parks’ website, under the “Issues” link, there are three: Downtown, taxes, and poverty. When I clicked on “Downtown” all it really says is, “We have a lot of work to do in Downtown Pullman.” It then states a moratorium on building is not the answer. Great! I am with you, so far. But nothing more is written.

Spoiler alert! The other two links are as uninformative as the downtown link. Also, it’s questionable whether the photo presented in the poverty section was taken in Pullman.

So based on each candidate’s website I really don’t know who represents my views. sent a survey to the candidates and it had a number of specific issues.

Johnson took time to regurgitate his talking points rather than give substance when he should have done so. Parks did a decent job giving the reader a chance to better understand her stance on topics.

Both candidates talk about taxes. While both agree they are high, Parks wants to find ways to move taxes from property to other things. She points out we don’t have an income tax in Washington, almost like she would like to see the state move to an income tax system. Johnson doesn’t discuss ways to lower the taxes. Instead he would like to see better prioritization on the spending of the tax dollars. But to be fair, later he writes about creating a diverse tax base which can reduce taxes in order to make housing more affordable.

The overall feel of the survey is that Parks is left leaning and would like to see more environmental regulations, prioritizes green spaces over trails and paths, and believes that Grand Avenue’s congestion is less of a concern than adding more bike lanes.

While Johnson comes across as anti-development in his radio ads he also indicated that developers need to build within the rules and regulations already in place and rely less upon on variances. Although he pushes his talking points really hard, the survey better showed where he stands on a couple issues.

Based on their websites, survey results, and media reports, I am not able to say either candidate strongly represents me. In fact, I wish there was another option. Frankly, it’s hard to find areas of agreement with Johnson who spends more time using abstract talking points rather than giving real substance. Given the two options presented to Ward 1 voters, we would be better served with Ann Parks.

Scotty Anderson is a computer programmer who enjoys serving the community through various community-oriented service jobs.

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