CALL TO ACTION: URGE CITY COMMISSIONERS TO PRIORITIZE VOTING IN SEPTEMBER 2017 COMMISSION MEETING
“City of Gainesville Commissioners: The Voters are Ready for This!”
Again this past Thursday, your city commissioners postponed the action of placing a referendum on the March 2018 ballot that would move our city elections from the spring to the fall federal elections cycle. This shift would save the city money and allow more people to participate in our elections. The primary reservations for the referendum were held by Commissioner Harvey Budd and Commissioner Charles Goston. Mr. Budd expressed concern that only an activist minority supports this change and that it will create more partisanship so he wants to hear more opinions; Mr. Goston expressed concern that this is an attempt to place more white officials on the commission.
After much discussion with substantial citizen participation, our city representatives opted only to have the city legal staff craft language for an ordinance and the ballot referendum with a vote of 6-1 in favor.
Commissioner Budd is leaning toward yes but wants more convincing; Commissioner Goston, is simply not going to support this and suggested that if there is a need to increase voter turnout, there are other ways to do so. However, neither commissioner voiced a coherent argument AGAINST moving the election cycle. If this change saves the city money and increases voter turnout, why are commissioners against this move?
At Indivisible Gainesville, we wholeheartedly agree that other measures to increase voter turnout are sorely needed as well: why not use the money saved by this effort to conduct exhaustive voter registration and turnout strategies? Why not conduct more intensive citizen focus groups, especially in underrepresented communities, to find out WHY they do not register/vote, and how to make legitimate, REAL changes? Many people do not vote because their reasoning tells them that it is futile in the face of official corruption, laws they do not support, unreasonable and sometimes dangerous law enforcement, and concerns about the legitimacy of incarceration in America.
You can understand why people do not prioritize voting when they are busy worrying about getting stopped by the police and being hurt/killed by them. We are serious – our challenge in the face of actual, daily, pervasive, concerns for personal safety is to do BOTH. Act on our injustice AND act on voter participation. This is not a zero-sum activity; we have to do BOTH.
We ask you, the Gainesville citizens we know are ready, to contact city commissioners and demand that they act decisively in the September 2017 commission meeting! To review, revise and agree to place the issue on the Spring 2018 election ballot and LET THE VOTERS DECIDE. It is time to act. As concerned citizen Susan Bottcher said so concisely: “The voters are ready for this”. Let’s make sure they are.
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