I noticed Logan Harvey many years ago and saw he was an up-and-comer: young, thoughtful, articulate, engaging, personable, he had it all to be a good civic player. I’ve admired Logan from the get-go. At one Sonoma Valley Climate Coalition meeting, several of us strongly encouraged him to run for city council. At the time, he was “one of us,” i.e., Left, Progressive, on the outside.
Those days are history. Now Logan is the Mayor of Sonoma, at probably the most difficult time possible. I think he’s doing a great job. To use a basketball metaphor, we drafted him, got a great player, and now we have to trust in his strengths. He’s a smart, talented team player, he’s a player we want.
Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey
As Mayor, Logan is now at the center of the storm. He gets to hear it from all and be deeply involved in the process of deciding issues. He has to weigh merits as they are spun differently by multiple parties. He’s exposed to background information that single-issue advocates never think of. He has to go to 30,000 feet and think about the costs and benefits for all. He must weigh the merits and make choices based on the values he was elected to have, and then publicly deliberate and cast his vote.
Along the way, when stakeholder groups see Logan take a different tack than they would prefer, they may become bitter, indignant, and judgmental, and accuse him of selling out or worse. This isn’t new. Local politics is littered with the smoking craters of people who have fallen out by having different loyalties or taking differing views on an issue. Purity tests and zero-sum-game thinking are par for the course for human behavior. Taking sides and being counted is real. Yet, reasonable politicians are necessarily forced into taking larger-context views. Single-issue constituents resist buying into this larger, more nuanced world.
For example, Measure M is a coming transportation issue where Logan, obviously a strong environmentalist, takes a different view than some (but not all) in the Sonoma Valley Climate Coalition. The UGB or urban growth boundary (Measure W) is another issue where Logan has a different take than many strong-minded players. Housing, density, and zoning are other fractious issues where Logan could run afoul of true-believing advocates. Logan has to make his own call; like many other politicians, he has cultivated a view to gain incremental advances on issues over trying to hit a three pointer every time.
Do we want politicians who have pre-decided all issues, where there can be no chance of changing their minds? What do we really want? A reasonable, intelligent person or a rubber stamp for one-sided views? In basketball, the best players let the game come to them.
Single-issue cohorts want a home run for their team every time; they want a bare knuckles advocate, not someone who represents everybody. They want to see their values win and other people lose. Is democracy just Machiavellian tribalism at a larger scale, or do we shoot for an e pluribus unum, unity from diversity kind of feel? In this small town-big fire city, Logan has many difficult stakeholder-group needles to thread.
Many hope that the government can solve every problem. It can’t. Politicians become lightning rods for everyone’s hopes and dreams, and few can measure up to that kind of outsized expectation. It’s reasonable, however, to expect an elected official to lean into representing their values, the same ones that put the wind in their sails for wanting to run in the first place.
Taking a middle path on issues is profoundly unsatisfying to advocates, but in reality, not many hard core partisans win elections. In a democracy, politicians have to appeal to a wide variety of voters to get elected, and they are elected to exercise reasonable judgments for all of society.
For example, blue collar west-siders, hotel developers, business people, and environmentalists all have interests that reasonably seek to be represented. Sometimes interests are at odds.
So, as I imagine what it is like to be Logan, who is now deeply enmeshed in the inner workings of government, I know that view is quite different from the days back at the Climate Coalition. I don’t think Logan’s moral compass has changed, nor have the characteristics he showed to get elected. I’ve supported him from day one because I trust his overall approach. The game runs four quarters and a missed shot here or there is to be expected.
At the end of the day, politics is more than a basketball metaphor, but like game theory, it does have to do with winning, losing, negotiation, and compromise. Whatever it is, Logan is a player I’m rooting for.
This is an opinion piece. Views expressed are those of the author.