Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Upcoming Elections

In an earlier post I wrote that there was a run-off in the county, noted that only those who had voted in the Republican primary and those who had not voted could vote in the August 5th election. I was not thinking about the state-wide elections, only the county elections. Democrats can vote on the state-wide run-off between Vernon Jones and Jim Martin. However, those who pulled a Democratic ballot on July 15th can NOT pull a Republican ballot to vote in the local election. Sorry for the confusion... I'll make it a little bit more confusing... If you are a Democrat and didn't vote on July 15th, you CAN pull a Republican ballot in the run-off and vote in the local elections. Course, you may want to pull a Democratic ballot and weigh in on the Jones vs Martin run-off instead.

I've always felt that local elections were much more important than the national elections if a choice had to be made. The local guys are the ones who decide what your taxes will be, they put up billboards or stop them, they let developers have their way or not... the school board makes decisions that affect your children and your taxes... the sheriff... the tax commissioner... the judges... these folks have much more impact on you than a state senator or U.S. Senator who's one of a large group usually walking hand-in-hand with their party.

It amazes me that we can have a 26% turnout for a primary and yet in November everyone will come out to vote for the President. Yes, it's important to vote in November, but I'd argue that it is more important to vote in July. But that's just me. Obviously the majority of voters think differently based on the percentage turnout in summer-time elections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I assure you that the voter turnout would have been higher if the candidates gave us some real choices. Simply put, the candidates were poor this July. They were almost all old, republican political veterans with some sort of personal axe to grind. None offered creative solutions or real change. And if one did, he/she was not successful at getting his/her message out.

If one of the candidates for county commission had came out and said, "I want to prepare Fayette County for the distinct possibility that gas prices may double again in the next year or two, therefore, we must make public transportation a priority," more people would have voted. Those against public transportation would have flocked to the polls as well as those for it. Instead, public transport was a 'no choice' issue. All seven candidates had the same opinion.

Same goes for district voting.

Same goes for overall fiscal strategy.

Same goes for ideas on development.

The issues for the commission voters to choose between was broken down into three main areas: defined benefit or defined contribution; Pay raises or high turnover; and Bost or Smith.

Wouldn't it have been more interesting if just one of the candidates had said, "I think that now is the time to build our infrastructure and wholeheartedly invest in fayette's future. I realize that tax revenues are down, but the slowing economy also means the county can contract for jobs at a much cheaper rate. Contractors are undercutting each other all across the board. We can get a better value for our taxpayers and stimulate our local economy by investing now. It will set fayette apart and prevent us from becoming like the surrounding counties."

No, didn't hear anything like that. Reason: that would have qualified as a 'fresh idea.'

Not one candidate seriously addressed the housing crisis in the county. During the earlier part of this decade, the county happily rode onto the outer stretches of Fayette’s over-inflated housing bubble. By the middle of the decade the housing market was so artificially robust that developers flooded many areas of the county with expansive and highly profitable luxury homes.

Mostly forgotten were the type of mid-range housing that had traditionally offered middle class families access to Fayette’s famously successful public schools.

Now we have record foreclosure rates among individuals and greedy luxury home developers.

We've priced young families out of the Fayette market, driving them either to cheaper suburban areas with improving schools (Coweta, Henry) or back to the city, where rejuvenated neighborhoods like historic college park and midtown offer access to public transport, limited commutes and cultural amenities that the suburbs can never hope to match.

The school system is losing students. The 65 and older age group has increased by over 40-percent since the 2000 census (figures available on the census' website) while the under 5 population is drying up.

Our median age continues to rise. In 2006 it was 40. The state average is 34.6.

The commissioner candidates' ideas to deal with these drastic demographic shifts? "Keep the taxes low. Cut services. We already have a nice senior center."

No mention of making Fayette once again the top choice for young families. No mention of a "Villages at Lafayette" live, work, play type initiative elsewhere in the county. No mention of the potentially enormous financial crisis that our school system will face if the economic downturn doesn't turn around soon.

More people would vote in local elections if they felt as though they actually had a choice.