All in favor say "Aye!"

March 25, 2019

 

Let’s take a vote, shall we?

 

When citizens get riled up about an issue, one of the first demands is that we “vote on it!”. Let the people decide, not the politicians. That way, the logic insists, we will get the best - and truest - result. Majority rules! Democracy in action!

 

But when, in the course of human events, the opportunity to vote actually presents itself, the citizens are mostly absent. Happy to vent their emotions in the face of some perceived injustice, they are mostly indifferent to the process that seats their representatives at the decision-making platform of city government.

 

“Which is worse”, hippies asked each other facetiously, “ignorance or apathy?”

 

“I don’t know and I don’t care” was the cynical, scripted response.

 

And so, here we are. The city staff, motivated by an honorable intention to reduce the cost of government, recently renewed a biennial suggestion that would reduce the number of polling places, mostly due to the fact that so few voters actually show up for local elections. 

 

Fewer voters need fewer places to vote. But fewer places to vote might attract even fewer voters. And so it will go until there are no places to vote at all.

 

And yes, we can all vote by mail, and we can vote early in special places. But many prefer the physical, visceral act of marking a ballot at their local precinct and handing it over in person to a duly authorized poll worker, stationed there to see to the integrity of the process. Ever find out that something you sent - or expected to receive - got “lost in the mail”? Hmmm.

 

Two features of the American ideal set it entirely apart from all other nations: A free press, and the right to vote. But both of these are under relentless attack now, and we are in very real danger of losing them to forces who will benefit from their demise.

 

So, yes, let’s vote on it, shall we? 

 

When the city budget begins to take shape in the next month or so, take time to make yourself known to the City Commission and the city management and insist that some small fraction of the “taxpayers money” be used to fund the mailing of ballots to all eligible voters. All. Not just those who ask. All eligible voters.

 

If this gets done, the city will have said to its citizens that voting is vital and valuable, and that its citizens are vital and valuable. And perhaps, if more voters are literally handed the opportunity to make their voices heard, more will speak up and become informed and engaged. This is the best - and truest - result.

 

Send a message to city hall:

 

Scott.Frankiln@lakelandgov.net

Stephanie.Madden@lakelandgov.net

Sara.McCarley@lakelandgov.net

Bill.Mutz@lakelandgov.net

Bill.Read@lakelandgov.net

Justin.Troller@lakelandgov.net

Phillip.Walker@lakelandgov.net

Tony.Delgado@lakelandgov.net

 

And if you think a single vote doesn’t matter much, consider that it will only take four of the commissioners to vote this up - or down. One vote, one way or the other, will do the job.

 

And, if you haven't already, please request your own mail-in ballot by following this link: https://www.polkelections.com/Mail-in-Ballot-Request-Form

 

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E-mail the commissioners

But one at a time, please!

 

For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Bill Mutz

Bill Read - Justin Troller - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Tony Delgado  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.

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