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Jonathan Kraut: A new kind of politician heads to Sacramento

Posted: January 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Each year my wife and I host a little holiday party to raise awareness and funds for the SCV Winter Homeless Shelter.


When we have freezing nights like we’ve had recently, I am glad so many join us to offer support to the homeless, ensuring them a safe, warm place to sleep at night.


A year ago our party was graced by all the candidates running for the 38th Assembly District seat to be vacated by Cameron Smyth, who had hit his term limit. Each candidate briefly addressed the crowd and worked the event.


Scott Wilk won the seat in a tough-fought race and was recently sworn in. When Scott and his wife, Vanessa, showed up at this year’s holiday party, I was not surprised.


He wasn’t there to shake hands and pick up votes. He was there, like the rest of our guests, to support our SCV shelter.


And in typical Scott Wilk style, he didn’t just drift in for a quick intro and slide out — he and Vanessa stayed until they met with everyone, one on one, which took most of the night.


Scott let everyone know that he was their new voice in Sacramento and to call him any time.


Scott has been involved in politics forever: two years as field rep for state Sen. Ed Davis, chief of staff four years for state Sen. Paula Boland, two years for state Sen. Tom McClintock, and five-plus years for Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon.


Then six years on the College of the Canyons board and six years running a public relations firm.


One might expect a sense of arrogance or superiority to accumulate with all this experience.


But when College of the Canyons recently held a farewell gathering to thank Scott for his service on the Board of Trustees and to wish him luck in Sacramento, he opened his thank-you speech with: "I’m going up to Sacramento to represent you — not a party, not a caucus, but you."


I have known Scott for many years. As political moderates, we agree about half the time, and frankly, disagree the other half of the time. Unlike most Republicans I know, Scott has a way of making me feel like it’s OK to disagree with him.


The rhetoric is so bitter in politics right now, often the walls come up and the ears shut down when just the very first volley of words are exchanged.


Not with Scott. He will patiently listen to you and then with a joke and a smile point out how he thinks you’re off the mark. But he never says "You’re wrong" and launch into a tirade about it.


Often he offers a compromise idea that would please Dems and Republicans alike.


The GOP is facing an identity crisis. Lately, the Republican Party seems to be ruled by fringe types, each making their pet issue the only issue, instead of working things out to get things done.


Tea partiers are against government spending on just about anything but defense. Gun advocates, who think the Second Amendment is about having any kind of gun they want, are afraid that a "well-regulated standing militia" is going to take their guns away.


The religious right wants to keep women from making decisions about their own bodies. The Libertarian wing wants to let loose greedy and predatory practices to feast on the public once again.


The anti-immigration wing wants to send everyone in question back to their homelands, never to return. None of these groups seems open to middle ground.


I think Scott represents a new kind of politician.


He doesn’t blame the "other side" for "causing ruin," "destroying our freedoms" or "putting our grandchildren into debt," as is the hallmark of many of his GOP colleagues.


When asked about his priorities, he simply states what he wants to do without blame and shows no bitterness nor hostility.


At our holiday party a year ago, Scott promised if elected to represent everyone and to put political party aside. Now elected, he has shown every intention of keeping his word.


I hope Sacramento doesn’t knock him off course But if he gets any nicer and more caring, I am afraid he is going to have to switch political parties.


Jonathan Kraut serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV, on the SCV Human Relations Forum and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal or organizations in which he is involved.



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