this election about?
At a fundamental level its about the People of
Prescott rediscovering their true power as citizens. It is also
about the failures of the current public officials of the City of
Prescott, the current Mayor and Council. The People of Prescott
need to let all future public servants know that this kind of behavior
will not be tolerated. Here are some details on the problem with
Granite Dells annexation
The problem of power cannot be emphasized
enough. Politicians, in the old ways, have led us to believe that
our only power is in the vote, and so they seek to dominate and
manipulate that process to their advantage. Many of us have even
come to believe them.
The reality is that at every level of Government,
from the National, to the State, and then to the local, the Citizen is
the ultimate power. We have been led away from understanding
this, and the most profound thing we can do at any level of Government
is to re-assert our rights as the foundation of that level of
Government. The National, and State Constitutions are all
temporary grants of power from the People to the State and we can
withdraw that grant any time we wish. Even our Municipal
Corporation, with its Home Rule basis, is a temporary grant of power.
This election then is about our asserting our true
power, and we can exercise this power best by taking hold of and
determining, out of ourselves, the content of the public dialog.
Too long have the politicians, with their huge budgets for politicial
advertising, been able to make us believe that the way they frame
issues is the way we should think about them. Now its our turn,
to take back the content of the public conversation, and put our ideas
and needs ahead of what politicians and their political operatives try
to force us to believe.
However, the major impediment to our taking hold of
this dialog, is our having already allowed the politicians with their
campaign of "wedge issues" to divide us, one against the other.
We need to find our true center again as a whole community in spite of
these politician induced false divisions. The fact is that
whatever the future is to bring, we will have to face it together, and
the wisdom that Lincoln paraphrased from Matthew 12:25: "a house
divided against itself cannot stand.", needs to receive our utmost
attention as we walk together into our shared political future.
For this reason, I have made the cornerstone of my
campaign the creation of meetings whose purpose is to support us in
healing these divisions. I want to be elected because I have done
something that is valued, not because I have made some promises.
Who is Joel A. Wendt and why does he
think he should be Mayor?
Basically I am a citizen of Prescott, who
wants to offer himself as a future public servant of the People of
Prescott. I am not going to be making promises or seeking to
persuade people to vote for me. That's your choice and, more
importantly, your responsibility. I will tell you in this page,
in person and anywhere else that seems appropriate, what I think about
the future of Prescott, and our shared political life. Then you
Since few people will know me, or have heard of me,
it is reasonable to wonder whether I have any chance of being elected
or whether I could really serve the People. To answer such
questions I have to toot my own horn a little bit, but we all know this
is a necessary part of seeking public office - you have a right to know.
A few background matters: I am 64, was born in
Great Falls, Montana, and educated in the Rockies (3 years USAF
Academy, 1 year University of Denver to receive a pre-seminary B.A. in
1963, then 3 years University of Montana School of Law, at Missoula, to
receive a J. D. degree in 1967). Over the last 40 years I have
mostly worked at raising five children (in two marriages): Marc, 42,
works for George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County California;
Doren, 38, teaches autistic children for the Los Angeles School system;
Jennifer, 33, is a supervisor for the University of California
Retirement System; Adam, 22, telecommutes from his home as a computer
expert for a
internet company; and Gabriella, 17, will graduate from Achieve Academy
this May. I've also worked at whatever work I could do to
support my family. I haven't been perfect in any role, and here
is a link to a
more detailed biography and work history
. Mostly I worked in
the mental health industry as either an adolescent counsellor, and
mental health worker, for a total of about 18 years.
I have also been a student of America, its politics
and its social and cultural history and reality. For 16 years I
was an unpaid fellow at the Center For American Studies at
Concord. This was my avocation, while I worked and raised
children, mostly as a member of the economic class we call:
current business card reads: "social philosopher ... and occasional
I have thought and written extensively on social and
matters, from a spiritual perspective, and have three websites and a
blog. The main one is called: Shapes in the Fire
The one on presidential politics and national social-political
questions is: some
thoughts on the nature of public life and an offer of service
The one on Citizen Statesmanship is called: Celebration and
Theater: a People's Art of Statecraft
, while my blog is called Hermits Weblog: what your
mother never told you about how the world really works
Here is a alphabetical index to
all my writings
, and here are some samples:
If you are a poet, or like free verse: the gift of the word
(should be read aloud). Here is a short story:
a Children's Christmas Story for Adults (a child spends some
time with an Angel on Christmas Eve - also should be read aloud).
Here are a couple of essays on deep politics: Citizen
Governance (on the future of the Republic) and Re-imagining the
of the Presidency
(on some differences between statecraft and
politics), written in 2002 and 2003, respectively. And,
here is an essay on the beginnings of a new social science: Fundamentals
of a New Social View.
What are the major issues in this
The main general question is: What is going to be
the future direction of Prescott? The main choices are more of
the same, that is more basically mindless and endless development and
annexation, which really only benefits a few at the expense of the
taxpayers of Prescott; or, are we going to find a more balanced
direction, one which recognizes that a Community is not just an economy
with businesses and jobs, but a Culture, with churches, charities,
schools and most important, a sense of self linked wisely to a sense of
place. Far too much have we only had our local government
emphasize the economic, while it barely tolerated and patronized the
spiritual-cultural - our sense of who we are and what life means.
The economic only sees us as workers and consumers,
but we are a great deal more, and this human truth is even more
valuable than our economic roles.
A related main question is about water. Wise
management of our resources needs more than mere lip service from our
public servants. It needs actions, not words, and at the level of
actions the Granite Dells annexation shows the real moral poverty of
our established leaders. The needs of a few developers were
far more important than the problems and debts that were to be left to
Solving these problems, however, requires that we
work together, and so behind the scenes of the issues regarding
Prescott's economic and cultural future, is the social processes by
which we heal the divisions fostered by the excessive use of wedge
issues by leading politicians of all parities.
What are the minor issues of this
These are not unimportant, it is just that the major
issues form the basic structure of the debate, while the minor issues
represent necessary details. Here is a list provided by a small
citizens group (was: Take Back Our Community; but is now Stand Up
) that gave some careful thought
to our needs (this is an early version of their work, and should not be
considered fully accurate):
How do we go about bringing the
Purpose: We are citizens
dedicated to maintaining Prescott's best
characteristics and improving the quality of life in Prescott by
citizen awareness, advocating for citizen issues, and promoting and
assisting candidates who will accomplish this purpose.
Prescott's Economic Future
A strong Prescott will be based on a diverse and vital economy that
the needs and aspirations of the public. We need to encourage a
regional economy that does not depend on unsustainable overheated
Small businesses generally produce greater job growth and innovation
big businesses. Local businesses generally reinvest significantly more
our community than do national corporations that remove most of their
profits from the area. We therefore support local small businesses.
Prescott is an attractive area for businesses. We should minimize the
incentives for attraction or maintenance businesses. Subsidizing retail
development is poor economic and fiscal policy. Building new stores
create new retail spending (only an increase in population or incomes
that), but simply re-divides the existing pie.
In order to encourage a sustainable economy, we support increased
educational efforts to promote technology in areas such as renewable
energy efficient construction, and energy and water conservation.
We need to cooperate with neighboring jurisdictions on tax-sharing
agreements, instead of engaging in a bidding war giving away tax
A large component of our economy is based on tourism. We need to
this type of inflow of dollars into our economy especially by promoting
and cultural tourism.
All City workers, and all workers of companies contracted by the
City, should be paid at least enough to support a family at a basic
This would currently be at least $10 an hour. This provision will
healthy economy to better serve more of our citizens.
We wish to create a community that conserves its unique and
natural and historic features by enacting rigorous development statutes,
ensuring new growth adapts to the characteristics its citizens have
In the past, Prescott needed to grow to provide for a measure of
life for our citizens. Now, Prescott is a very desirable location to
and to set up a business. Therefore, we now need to plan and control the
enormous growth demand to maintain our quality of life and community.
We need to stop asking ourselves what we can do
to encourage growth, and start asking if the growth that will occur
beneficial for the city. We want healthy natural growth and not
is stimulated by artificial incentives and competitive models. The
citizens of Prescott want our city to retain its small-town feel. We do
want overheated growth, with its attendant congestion and loss of
life. Our existing and potential water supplies are severely limited. If
water supplies allow, we can maintain a moderate growth rate of no more
1500 persons per year.
We oppose the annexation of the Granite Dells/Point of Rocks Ranches and
county portions of the Storm Ranch as presently constituted. We do not
oppose annexation of land within one mile of the airport's
approach/departure routes to encourage the area's industrial vitality.
New growth should pay full and fair impact fees to cover all costs
associated with the growth.
Most people who work in Prescott either struggle to live here or cannot
here because they
don't earn enough money to afford the available housing. All candidates
should pledge to only support developments and multifamily projects
re-zoning or other permits if they provide 20% of their units as
permanent "affordable housing" units. All areas wishing
annexation into the
City shall be required to provide such an amount of affordable housing
units. These homes would be set aside (based on income requirements) for
workers such as teachers, firefighters, and others who are needed in our
The entire community benefits when housing is affordable to all
There are large numbers of homeless persons in the Prescott area.
reasons for their homelessness are as varied as the homeless persons
themselves. Many homeless people work full time jobs, but because of
circumstances, find it temporarily impossible to obtain housing. Some
reasons for homelessness include the loss and unavailability of jobs,
illness and other disabilities, and drug and alcohol addiction.
In cooperation with other neighboring jurisdictions and other funding
service agencies, the city should help fund and staff a homeless shelter
where people with no money could have a warm, dry place to sleep.
De-tox centers are recognized by the American Medical Association as a
necessary medical service for any community. In cooperation with other
neighboring jurisdictions and other funding agencies, the city should
provide a de-tox center to provide safe services to deal with this
We believe that a compassionate and vital community cherishes its youth
stewards their social development, informing and motivating them by
intelligently cultivating and distributing its cultural resources.
We support innovative creative partnerships and collaborations among
community groups (individuals, institutions and businesses) to enhance
educational activities and opportunities for our youth - and cultural
experiences for all.
The last fifty years have demonstrated that arts and humanities are a
component of the cultural fiber of our city. Many of our most
citizens have been artists and have played a significant role in the
of our city. Therefore civic support for the arts is an important
of our city. It enhances our tourism economy and improves our quality
life. Prescott should follow the lead of neighboring communities and
increased amounts towards Cultural expansion, as well as implement the
popular "1% for Arts" initiative,
applied to all new civic and commercial development projects. The City
should add a staff position to help coordinate development, promotion,
operation of arts and humanities.
We support prompt city construction of the much-delayed skate park. The
children of our community should not have to beg to get the city to
such a needed public recreation facility.
Regional Planning and Cooperation
Prescott doesn't exist in an economic or environmental
vacuum. Many needs
have to be dealt with on a regional basis, such as growth management,
traffic, and economic development. Mass transportation problems
system) will be better solved by the whole, and not just the part.
We need cooperation -- not competition -- in order to most efficiently
the public's needs.
The City should work with the other jurisdictions in the Prescott Active
Management Area to develop and implement a plan to reach safe yield
encourage conservation and efficiency, more stringent per capita water
levels should be established, and all or a large part of the savings
this conservation should be required to go to permanent recharge. All
large part of alternative waters (including recharged effluent) should
used to achieve safe yield. The City Council should pass a resolution to
encourage the legislature to enact laws that will mandate safe yield,
regulate exempt wells and provide enforcement mechanisms for the
We support instant run-off voting for City elections. This will save the
City a considerable amount of money. It will also save candidates
considerable amounts of money and time. This reform would therefore
encourage more good candidates to seek public office.
We support a program for the City to mail informational election
to each qualified voter. Every candidate will be allowed a certain
words to explain their candidacy.
Openness, and Citizen Involvement
The City should work to maximize citizen involvement in city affairs by
enhancing public information and education efforts. We believe City
information should be open to the public to a maximum extent. Even
that are not covered by the Open Meeting Law should be
open to the public as much as reasonably possible. The City should take
positive actions to notify the public of all upcoming meetings and
information about the agendas of the meetings, in order to maximize
participation. Citizen Advisory Committees have been effective and
expanded into additional issue areas. We are concerned about excessive
use of the
Emergency Clause by the Council. Any time it is necessary the use, the
reasons should be fully explained to the public well in advance of the
In the essay noted above, Citizen Governance and
the future of the Republic
, I pointed out the need to distinguish
ends and means. We will have a more healthy shared political life
if we concentrate on how we go about getting where we need to go, with
not so much emphasis on a particular end.
The more we emphasis a particular end, the more we
divide ourselves. The more we concentrate on how we
what is our means, the more we face the problem of our current state of
division at the hands of too many self-serving politicians. This
means that the first stage in moving forward is getting together and
finding those matters on which we can unify, instead of focusing on
those ends which divide us.
This will be hard work, and a main aspect of this
campaign and its meetings will be to foster exactly these kinds of
public dialogs, in which what the citizens have to say to each other is
more important than what the office-seeking public servant
thinks. In these meetings, I will spend more time listening than
We have a far more profound power than the vote,
which is the dialog - the discussion among ourselves of what is the
right way for Governments to behave, what are our needs as against the
needs of a few developers, and what we want the future course of
Prescott to be. With that power over the conversation, we change
everything, for now the politician has to follow our lead, and show by
actions, not just words, that he or she intends to be a true public
Here is some material from an e-mail I sent seeking support:
to run a very different campaign from the usual, seeking to work more
strongly at helping the citizens of Prescott appreciate their real
power, and to begin to work together in spite of the divisions fostered
through the excessive use of wedge issues by recent national political
campaigns. I see our deepest need as learning to appreciate each
other in spite of differences, because it is only as a working whole
that we will be able to meet the problems coming toward us in the
Because of this, the
meeting on the 16th [the first public meeting, held in April], which
will be the model for all later functions, will only involve my
speaking for 15 to 20 minutes about how a citizen might offer an
independent view of the State of the Union, followed by most of the
time being taken up with the citizens having conversation with each
other. I consider our conversations with each other to be the key
to a more healthy politics, and therefore helping such conversations
arise is the main trust of my coming campaign.
I want, in this way, to earn
your votes by actions, rather than to seduce you with promises or words.
The conversation will be directed toward an end, to a degree. The
hope for that end is that after some straight talk encounters with each
other, those attending will be willing to join more long lasting
groups, perhaps networked to each other, so that the conversation can
continue, and people can find a common basis for action and
Since we are at the
very beginning of something, it is difficult to imagine what might
arise, but it is my belief that we can not only have regular meetings
in which we share our concerns and intelligence, but networks of these
meetings, so that the whole can become greater than the parts.
Each small group can produce material it shares with other groups,
along independently created lines of communication, so that, in effect,
we give birth in Prescott to a true people-based
alternative media. Instead of being dependent upon TV or the
local paper, we create our own means of internal communication for the
purpose of strengthening our sense of community.
Each group, or
individual, can be a source of ideas and wisdom, and the network can
transmit only that which it finds helpful. Each node or group can
pass on, or not, according to how it values what it has received.
In this way, only those materials which serve the whole will succeed in
reaching the complete network of groups and individuals.
Groups who want to
divide, or accuse, or dismiss, will find their work not being passed
along. Those who work more positively, and with the goal of
serving the whole, will find their material spreading easily within the
Since the transmission
pathways will not themselves be organized, material can arrive at the
same places through quite independent routes. Questions and
additions can be passed back and forth. Groups can invite other
groups to larger meetings, resolve conflicts and then create new
material to offer to the whole.
In a way, this is very
much like the open source model which has been so successful on the
internet (for those who have heard of this work). We are here
just copying this already proven method of building something viable
out of the free initiative of interconnected individual and group
What are some examples of possible new
directions and how will new and differently minded public servants act
so as to bring about the true will of the People of Prescott?
Here are some ideas I have had, which are only offered as possible
examples (the url link goes to more details):
Prescott has a large retired population, have we under utilized this
What is the
idea of sustainability
and how does it apply to Prescott?
There is much thinking that has been done by many experts concerning
how to combine intelligent resource management with quality of life
goals. Is there a better way to preserve water? Can a
sewage treatment be more efficient? What do we do with open
spaces? In the url above will be listed some links to websites
that examine this problem in detail.
Some quotes from my
"A representative form of government
is only truly representative to the extent those who empower it - that
is the People - know the truth
only real coin of any value, passed
between the citizens of a Nation
and their public servants, is the
truth. With that coin in circulation, nothing is impossible to such a
People, for truth leads to trust,
and it is mutual trust that binds us together into a Whole."
"Most politics is the manipulation of
public life for the benefit of the few at the expense of the
many. While, citizen governance - that is true citizen
statesmanship - is the
calling to public service of a few by the many for the benefit of the
"What then do we seek? Do we want a civilization dominated by
self interest, and driven by fear of the other?
Do we want an America
known for its materialism and is racism? Will we leave to the power
politician the determination of the content of the political dialogue?
Or will we really be free? Not just free to buy and sell, but free, as
well, to become? For there is no true self government, in
sense, if there is not an equal proportion of self
the individual, of himself, in a moral sense."
copies of various
papers, letters and notes that were part of campaign