Editorial: Don’t fire the opposition

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks erred when he fired his newly announced challenger in the November election.

Deputy Prosecutor Steve Selby, a Republican, announced his candidacy Friday, and he learned Monday morning that Banks, a Democrat, had fired him. Banks declared, “The partnership between an elected prosecutor and his chief deputy must be built on trust and loyalty. Without that foundation they cannot work together effectively.”

That’s not so. There’s no reason an elected prosecutor like Banks can’t continue to work with a challenger like Selby. They already have a long working relationship dating back to when Banks was first elected seven years ago. For the sake of civility and the people they serve they should continue working together on a professional basis.

Firing one’s political opponent strikes the average voter as nothing more than revenge, or at least striking out in anger before cooly considering the options. By acting so quickly, Banks missed a golden opportunity to educate the public and provide a role model for how democracy should work.

Banks and Selby should be showing the public that they can disagree agreeably while working together for the common good. They should amicably attend political forums and discuss ways to improve the performance of the prosecutor’s office. The public needs to hear important information about how the office functions, its problems and successes, and how two intelligent and experienced candidates can have different solutions to the same problems.

Instead, it got personal in a hurry. And it wasn’t all Banks’ fault. Selby opened his campaign with some ill-considered words, saying Banks “sits there and takes credit for everything everyone else does,” among other zingers. He needs to learn that he can be frank without being offensive in a campaign, and that democracy works best when opponents show respect for one another despite their differences.

The campaign for Island County Prosecuting Attorney is less than a week old so it’s not too late to put the race back on the correct footing of mutual respect. Banks should ask Selby to rejoin the staff and they should issue a joint statement meant to bury the hatchet. It would be a great lesson, particularly for our youth, that even politicians can admit mistakes and learn to get along for the benefit of the public.

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