The Chieftain’s May 16 editorial concluded: “If there’s only one criticism . . . about our local politics, it’s that the Democratic Party continues in its near-moribund condition, fielding hardly anyone for anything.” In honor of the late Dave Bishop, credited with reviving the Wallowa County Democratic Party, who was remembered in a Celebration of Life on June 30th at Fishtrap House in Enterprise, we paraphrase Mark Twain: reports of the local Democratic Party’s moribundity are greatly exaggerated.

Rather than evidence of a “near-moribund condition,” the failure to field a candidate in every election might be considered practical. Nationally even the Republican Party, in areas where it doesn’t hold a majority, frequently declines to commit time and funds to a candidate. Running for office is costly, not only in monetary terms. In Wallowa County and Eastern Oregon, a challenger must spend a significant amount of time visiting every municipality and rural gathering in far-flung places.

And yet, despite facing what the May 16 editorial termed “ . . . Republicans – the unstoppable majority in these parts . . . “ , in recent years the minority Democratic Party has fielded several credible challengers.

In 2010, the county Democratic Party proudly supported an excellent candidate for House District 57. Jean Falbo traveled every mile of this huge district, self-funding much of her travels, though she was provided with monetary support by our local party and a core group of individuals including a few Republicans who believed her voice was needed in the Oregon House. She spoke to every group that accepted her request to introduce herself (there were some that would not — one example of what happens in a region populated with “an unstoppable majority”). Despite Jean Falbo’s impeccable credentials, her zeal, energy, and many good ideas, she was defeated.

In recent years we also fielded two very qualified Democratic candidates for County Commissioner, June Colony and Jean Grandi. Neither was able to overcome their Republican opponents. The local Democratic Party has always supported regional and statewide Democratic candidates, inviting them to Wallowa County to appear in the CJD parade and to speak at our annual Labor Day picnic at the State Park.

Last year we voted to endorse the Long Term Care Facility, the only political party to do so. Some of our members participated in educating the citizenry about issues surrounding Measures 66-67, including the official endorsement published in the Chieftain, authored by our Chair, who now writes an occasional column for this newspaper in which a progressive viewpoint on matters of both politics and ethics is presented.

We have occasionally sponsored seminars of interest, and open to the general public. Meanwhile, lower-profile contributions include twice-yearly litter removal along three miles of the Imnaha Highway outside of Joseph, now in its eighth year. Last year we voted to add a noxious weed removal project for 2012; and a small hardy group recently spent part of a day doing so. Two years ago we repainted the weathered exterior trim on the City of Wallowa’s public library.

Though not in public office, every one of our members is active in the county: serving on boards and/or active in public service groups, the music, theater and arts communities, churches. We are a diverse, multi-talented group of people, and in this important election year we welcome any registered Democrat to join us at our bi-monthly meetings or at any of our service and educational activities. Contact John McColgan if you want to participate.

The Blairs live in Joseph, where they have served for several years as elected Democratic Precinct Committee-persons for Precinct 6.

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