Standing on Principle

Winston-Salem city councilman Dan Besse is taking a bit of a political hit for his stance on an issue before the council. From Yes! Weekly's editorial about the matter:

The Winston-Salem city councilman took a stand last week against a proposed resolution by the city to oppose the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which equated money with free speech and enabled corporations and unions to make unlimited financial contributions to the political process…

But the time is being spent regardless of Besse’s opposition, largely at the behest of his political allies and constituents…

Surely there would be no harm to Dan Besse’s political future by backing down on his stance and throwing in with the opposition groups. It’s an election year, after all, and though Besse’s Southwest Ward seat seems safe, he will surely face a Republican opponent in the General Election.

The editors then provide two quotes from Besse that I think should be printed and hung on the walls in the chambers of every city/town/county council in the land:

“I strongly believe that as a good-government issue, that local governments should focus on the good things we can do — services and infrastructure that we are responsible for — instead of serving as an adjunct public debating society on issues over which we have no jurisdiction,” he said.


“If you can’t act on what you believe is the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be in office,” he said.

Councilman Besse also pointed out that he is an activist on many issues like assault weapons bans, the Affordable Care Act and environmental quality, but he is active in other more appropriate venues. His point – that being a member of city council doesn't preclude him from advocating for any issue on his own time, but when he's wearing his councilmember hat he should be focused on the city's business – is spot on. 

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