Our view: Part of the process
November 3, 2007
Craig — If you have sauntered through Steamboat Springs during the past few weeks, it’s easy to see how contested the ‘Boat’s City Council election is.
Signs sprawl throughout the city, directing people to “Vote for (insert name here), for American values,” and the typical propaganda that is associated with such elections.
Whether the candidates are simply spouting rhetoric or really believe what they say is not the point.
But there is some significance, such as there is a contested election race.
That there are multiple candidates adding to the debate.
That registered voters have a real choice.
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Let’s back track to April, when the city of Craig conducted City Council elections.
Mayor Don Jones ran unopposed, and five people ran for three City Council seats. That is better than an entirely uncontested race, but not much better.
Even more unimpressive than the number of candidates was the collected reaction of Craig voters.
A total of 671 people cast their votes in the election out of 5,134 registered voters – 13 percent of voters – and that was the highest April turnout in recent history.
Which has led this and previous editorial boards to wonder, why is such an important election – one where voters decide who will represent the city and its estimated $24 million annual budget – not conducted during the November election, which traditionally has a higher voter turnout?
The answer is somewhat understandable in that a spring election allows newly elected councilors to go through the budget process, so when they work with our tax money, it’s based off a budget they helped craft. Other cities do it differently, and get more people to run, and get better voter turnout.
But that’s not the point.
Just because more people run for board positions in other cities during the November election doesn’t mean it would happen in Craig or Moffat County.
One need look no further than this year’s race for the Moffat County School District board – every seat up for election is running unopposed.
Perhaps there is no way to schedule around apathy.
But that is not the point.
Perhaps the problem is in confusing ballot language and/or muddying of issues. If someone has no idea what 1A is about during this election before he or she meanders into the voter’s booth, there is a good chance he or she may not know after walking out.
Yes, the language is confusing – apparently to protect the entities proposing the question, as well as citizens, from legal backlash – and yes, perhaps there are ways to make the ballot process less confusing, like a synopsis of what the legal question is asking.
But that is not the point.
Not when you have proponents and opponents of Tuesday’s two ballot questions voicing their opinions. All someone has had to do is pay just a little attention to have some knowledge of the upcoming election.
And that is part of the point.
The ballot language may be confusing, there may be a better time to hold elections and it would be nice to see more contested races.
And there is one person who can help change that, and any other issues one may have toward how elections are handled – you.
And that is the point.
The voting process has become much easier. You can vote early, you can vote by mail or you can vote at multiple locations. Short of someone showing up at your house or work place, giving you the ballot and a pen, what more can be done?
On some level, you have to be part of the process.
We should be thankful to those who step up and provide public service on the area’s various boards.
But even if you don’t choose to serve the public in that way, you can do it another way. Serve the public and yourself by voting in Tuesday’s election.
And in every election beyond.
Because in the end, it’s your city, you’re county, your state and your country.
It should be your vote that helps decide all of those entities’ futures.