Petty, public infighting plagued (Sharon) Ullman’s first go-round as commissioner, but, refreshingly, her current term has been far less dramatic.”
Sound familiar? We wrote these words less than two months ago — in a May 2 editorial endorsing Ullman. Things have changed since then.
First and foremost, Ullman lost to Dave Case in the May 15 Republican primary.
Then, in a twist of circumstance, Case was appointed to replace Vern Bisterfeldt on the commission — meaning Case and Ullman will serve together until her term ends in January.
Then, last week, Ullman took to her Facebook page to launch a personal attack unlike any I’ve seen in local politics. She said Case and four other Idaho State Police troopers “assassinated” a Payette County reserve deputy during a December 1992 arrest.
Ullman can say that she was just posing the question, an attempt, she said, to “try to grab people’s attention.” But it doesn’t wash. This was an accusation, stated as fact. And Case says Ullman has her facts wrong; he says he was present during the shooting, but did not draw his weapon.
This whole case has been fully adjudicated, through a coroner’s inquest, a wrongful death suit and two Idaho Supreme Court cases. Nothing supports Ullman’s assassination claim — or her decision to even bring this issue up.
Commissioners have plenty on their plate. They can start with the hot mess surrounding the Dynamis trash-to-energy plan — a project that Ullman adamantly supports and Case vehemently opposes. Even Rick Yzaguirre, the man with the unenviable task of serving as third commissioner with Ullman and Case, said Ullman’s comments were inappropriate.
Saying this all echoes back to the old Ullman is unfair to the old Ullman. In her first run in the courthouse, Ullman squabbled over items such as the cost of vending machine sodas. I’m nostalgic for that now. This could be a long, ugly six months in the courthouse, as Ullman serves out her term.
One drawback to endorsements is that a paper sometimes has to live with choices that don’t always work so well. We have several of those: Brent Coles, John Bujak, John McGee, Larry Craig.
From what we had seen of Ullman, after she returned to the courthouse in 2009, pointed to a changed commissioner. Someone who had seemed to mature into the job of public service. I’m not sure Ullman’s critics — and there are many of them — could have foreseen this type of post-election outburst.
In choosing between candidates, voters and editorial boards have to judge candidates’ positions — but also their personalities. The latter is by far the tougher task. Personally, I believe politicians can change over time.
But here’s the catch. They can also change back.