Fighting among elected officials is unacceptable

An Island County commissioner acted outrageously and shamefully this week in attacking the county’s elected prosecutor because she was still sore about losing a court case to him a year ago.

Commissioner Jill Johnson lost her temper and accused Prosecutor Greg Banks of lying and even called him “a snake.”

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and Banks himself weren’t exactly paradigms of professionalism either. Price Johnson raised her voice and brought up the settled court case, which really had no bearing on the issue at hand and definitely wasn’t constructive.

Banks got worked up and fought back. It may be understandable that he defended himself, but the commissioners are his clients and he has a professional responsibility beyond that of other elected officials.

Only Commissioner Rick Hannold remained civil and tried to get the discussion back on track.

Banks attended the commissioners’ work session Wednesday to ask them to authorize the hiring of outside counsel to help defend against a lawsuit filed by developer Wright’s Crossing. Two commissioners saw irony in this request because Banks had filed a lawsuit asserting that the commissioners couldn’t hire their own attorney without his permission since he’s elected to be their attorney. The state Supreme Court agreed with Banks’ position.

There is no irony. In this case, Banks is giving his permission for outside counsel to be hired and the commissioners should trust him to know when his office needs such help. After all, it’s an important case the commissioners want to win.

This is not the first time that Commissioner Johnson was accused of losing her temper at Banks and acting inappropriately. In 2016, at least two staff members in the prosecutor’s office complained to HR after Johnson got upset in his office and screamed profanities for all to hear. She allegedly continued her tirade as she left the building. It’s no small matter; one staff member said she was left shaken.

This is not the way an elected official should act. They should be models of civility and rationality. They shouldn’t let vendettas color their discussion or decision-making process.

Last year a group of citizens concerned with the lack of civility in public discourse started a group called “Civility First.” They hoped to spark a move toward courteous dialogue, starting with the “Civility First pledge.”

We urge Johnson — and elected officials in general — to take the pledge and to take it to heart.

More in Opinion

Letter: Golden Rule is what most Americans are living by

Editor, Norms, standards and behaviors. We have moved through another election cycle,… Continue reading

Cartoon for Nov. 17, 2018

Cartoon for Nov. 17, 2018… Continue reading

Sound Off: Shop local on Small Business Saturday

By Betty Freeman South Whidbey is home to an array of creative… Continue reading

Letter: Writer should be ashamed of his ‘misleading letter’

Editor, Well, I hope no one ever hires Lee Rebman to analyze… Continue reading

Letter: We can do better —don’t drive under the influence

Editor, Once again, Island Thrift has fulfilled the Impaired Driving Impact Panel… Continue reading

Letter: Trump is thuggish buffoon who would be laughed at

Editor, So, we’ve come to this. A president who praises Congressman Gianforte… Continue reading

Letter: Let your representative know the changes wanted

Editor, We all know that government is slow, at least when it… Continue reading

Letter: Electromagnetic fields are all around us, affect health

Editor, In normal Whidbey life, the typical exposure of a child or… Continue reading

Letter: Letter writer was incorrect about Initiative 1631 info

Editor, Norman Bodine’s anti-Initiative 1631 letter of Oct. 9 states, “95 percent… Continue reading

Most Read