Your Vote Counts

Yesterday, around the United States, millions of people went to the polls.  They voted on important measures, elected mayors, city council representatives, school board members, and tax measures to support various needs in the community.  Although millions of us voted, we remained a minority of registered voters, which means that a minority of Americans decided all of these issues.  This is disturbing to me.  If we're to be a representative democracy then the citizenry need to take seriously their role in the process.  It's not enough to complain.  If you don't like the way things are going then exercise your right to vote, because if you don't, someone else will.

The election results in the city I inhabit were deeply disappointing to me.   Representatives of the Tea Party took control of the City Council.  An experienced and nationally respected council woman, Robin Beltramini, lost in her bid for the mayor's office to a person who has been a Tea Party instigator.  Now this faction will have to govern.  They have suggested that we can do all manner of things, while whittling down the city staff and rejecting the reality that there is much less money coming into the city's coffers than before.  For instance, the library's budget has been cut in half.  You can't offer all the services once provided with that kind of budget.  We're fortunate that we have a highly regarded volunteer fire department, which reduces costs to the city immensely.  We have a fine police department, which has made the city one of the safest in the nation, but how will that be maintained if police officers have to be let go due to budget woes.  One of the complaints about the city from this faction is that the employees are too well-paid.  But as folks in the private sector like to remind us, if you want quality you have to pay for it.  If what Troy pays it's highly regarded staff is diminished, will they not go elsewhere.  Already many of our top staff have left to take better paying jobs in neighboring cities.  These are disturbing trends that will speak loudly to companies thinking about relocating here, as well as possible new residents.  Why choose Troy when it seems to be going backwards in time, rather than moving forward?

These are the kinds of issues that require our attention, and our votes impact them.  

Now, I'm disappointed, but I'm also committed to the pursuit of the common good.  I believe that there remain on the City Council people willing to listen to reason.  I plan to contact one of those city council members, a person who has been aligned with the winning faction and have a conversation about my concerns.  I believe that he might be willing to see other sides of the coin.  I'm hopeful, even in my disappointment.

But at the end of the day -- if you want to see good things happen in your community you need to be an informed voter and you have to vote.  The old saying is that "all politics is local," and yet too often we only come out to vote when there is a Presidential election.  That simply won't do the job of a democracy.


Glenn said…

My wife and I have lived in Troy our entire lives. When I was a kid, my family owned a farm here when Troy was nothing but dirt roads and corn fields. It's changed drastically over the years, but has always been a very progressive city. I think that one of the reasons the tea party crowd has gained such a foothold here is because Troy was always very good at providing excellent city services and amenities while maintaining a very low millage rate. It allowed people who couldn't really afford it, to purchase McMansions in Troy. They made poor decisions regarding how much house they could really afford and when the economy tanked all of a sudden they were being victimized by the city's tax rate, even though their taxes were going down and they were paying much less than they would have been in any other city in the region. I was also extremely disappointed with last night's election results. I imagine that we will be witnessing the exit of a lot of good civil servants in the coming months, including the city manager who has done nothing to deserve the abuse heaped on him by the local tea party crowd. God help us all.
Robert Cornwall said…

Thanks for your thoughts. We're relatively new to the city, and are buying a home here, which has, of course, gone down in value.

I share your concern as to what will happen to city staff, which have borne an unfair burden of attacks and abuse.
David said…
Yeah for Ohio voting to keep freedom.

Uh oh, look out Bob. Obama's taxing natural Christmas trees (to save them of course). Next they'll be taxing Christians themselves to fund a needed PR campaign?

That's not a bad idea maybe. We can fight artificial Christians the same way. But, who would run the PR?
David said…
Oh yeah, hurray for Mississippi too.
Anonymous said…
Hey Glenn,

You make a point, but miss the mark. Plenty of people are frustrated with the lack of accountability in government, that's what's driving the tea-party movement, nothing else. That we are all taking it in the gut from the housing crunch is true, but to paint people with such a broad brush isn't such a good idea. Besides, the factor of taxes in consideration of a default in a McMansion is actually minimal, however, you are correct that many bit off more than they can chew. Anyway, the point is, the tired old liberalism is being panned across the nation whether you like it or not. It's about accountability, noting more.
Glenn said…,

I didn't mean that taxes were a major factor in housing defaults. I meant that Troy's taxes allowed people to get more house for their money compared to other cities because they were paying less in taxes for bigger houses. But, to your other point I couldn't disagree more. Fear, ignorance and greed is what drives the tea party movement. Troy has never been anything but a model city when it comes to managing taxes and city services. It has the State and national awards to prove it. Whatever happens here in the next four years, one thing is clear. Your tea party candidates and their controlling majority will own it. Hopefully, they won't do too much damage, but we'll just have to wait and see. I won't be surprised if the first thing to go besides the best city employees will be our bond rating.
Shyrgil said…
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