The battle between the Santa Barbara leftists and the editorial section of the Santa Barbara News-Press needs to stop, for the betterment of this community.

I am saddened and discouraged at the discourse between our community leaders (civic and citizen) throughout this latest election cycle, specifically the perceived bias from the editorial pages of the News-Press, and then from the left in various media rebuttals.

How sad is it that we are witnessing partisan wars rage on a global, national and statewide level – and that we in Santa Barbara have chosen to be a microcosm of those conflicts rather than an example of how to rise above our differences? How can any of us speak out against global war when we spend our time and energy railing against our neighbors for petty differences? How can we speak out against partisan bickering in Washington when we willfully engage in the same dynamic locally?

Mayor Marty Blum has been openly critical of the News-Press editorial pages. And why not? When a postelection editorial waves off her landslide win, saying it “merely reflected the huge Democratic registration edge in the city rather than any vindication …” (“Climbing Out of Their Wreckage,” Santa Barbara News-Press, Nov. 10), it isn’t difficult to read between the lines. And, as any involved leftist will probably tell you, that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Let’s call a spade a spade: The perception of many in the community is that the editorial section of the newspaper has a grudge against certain local politicians, and that it has used its influence in an attempt to unseat those officials.

So much is said and so much antagonism has built up around this perception – apparently on both sides – that many believe a letter such as this – voicing concern or opposition – has virtually no chance of seeing the light of day in the News-Press. If this is true, I ask the News-Press and the citizens of Santa Barbara to take a serious look at what is transpiring here.

Do we want a Santa Barbara that is a microcosm of the partisan mess and media bias we see on a national level? Or do we want a city that sets an example – that engages in an open exchange of ideas from left and right, that ultimately works together, that takes advantage of the strength of our differences instead of letting them rip the community apart? Surely we want the latter, and the News-Press has the opportunity to take charge in this endeavor – or not.

Why not print the opinions of both sides, liberal and conservative, friend and foe, side by side, and let the citizenry have a three-hundred and sixty degree view of our political landscape? One who believes in their ideas should welcome open discussion, knowing that caring, educated people will make the “right” choice.

The postelection “Our Opinion” piece (Santa Barbara News-Press, Nov. 10) stated: “It’s difficult to believe that Californians, just two years after the Davis recall, don’t believe the state needs reform.” This misses the point. Californians do want reform; what we don’t want is command and control leadership, in any form, that is not respectful and inclusive.

The piece also lamented that voters did not take a step toward “ending political gerrymandering.” With all due respect, this opinion may hold little weight in the minds of readers who hold the perception that the newspaper continues to engage in editorial gerrymandering. I say this not as an attack, but to point out that journalistic credibility comes from a willingness to show all sides, and is severely damaged when that standard is perceived as absent or lacking.

In Travis Armstrong’s postelection editorial, “Climbing Out of Their Wreckage” (Santa Barbara News-Press, Nov. 10), he calls for Mayor Blum to “end the politics of division.” I agree wholeheartedly, and make the same call to our illustrious local newspaper. I humbly ask you to step up and take the lead in mending the rifts grown wider through this election. The News-Press has the opportunity to demonstrate the potential of the positive power of the media on a local level. In 2006, I invite you to lead us in being the national example, not just the national average.

Blake Beltram is the co-host of “Ceasefire,” which airs Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. on KCSB 91.9 F.M.