Effective Representation

Your article “So Long Lois” confirms the saying “Nice guys finish last.” During her 18 years as congressional representative, Lois Capps was one of the nicest members of Congress, but also she was one of the most ineffective representatives Santa Barbara County has ever had. According to your article, she was good at bringing cookies to her staff meetings. However, she did not enable any legislation beneficial to her constituents, and, perhaps worse, she was unable to bring home for worthy county projects a significant fraction of federal taxes paid by her constituents.

There were instances during her tenure when local functionaries had to be sent to Washington in an effort to obtain some rebate of federal taxes to fund county projects. For instance, in 2010-2011, Capps was unable to get federal funds to build a bridge at the 101 Highway over Carpinteria Creek. The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments had to send to Washington representatives to lobby for the funds. Unfortunately, Capps was more dedicated to her party and its leader, Nancy Pelosi, than she was to her constituents.

Now, we have a new representative, Salud Carbajal, who will face more serious challenges, not only financial but also political. The Republican majority of the House of Representative is not likely to change for years to come, so he would be well advised to put his constituents above party and try to work across the aisle to achieve support for them. We can only hope that Carbajal will be more a representative than a partisan.


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