Back during those nearly forgotten pre- Obama days of the 2008 presidential campaign, I did a post entitled Vote Early and Often. At the time I included a qualifier that I was just kidding. Perhaps I was just ahead of schedule and I did not live in Port Chester, NY.
Port Chester is a small village about 30 minutes from New York City. Over the years no Latino had ever been elected as a trustee ( assume that would equivalent to a city council member) even though the village is about half Hispanic. Pay close attention to this next line. Most voters were white and white candidates always won.
Enter the feds, as represented by the U S Dept of Justice ( think Eric Holder) and federal judge Stephen Robinson. Judge Robinson said that the Voting Rights Act was being violated and something had to change. He rejected a proposal to break the village into 6 voting districts, one being heavily Hispanic. This next just amazes me. Vill;age officials suggested a method known as cumulative voting. This system gave each resident 6 votes to apportion as they chose. Even more amazing this system is already used for the Peoria, Il city council, the Amarillo, Tx school board and the Chilton County , Al county commission.
This whole approach just astounds me. It seems very easy to manipulate plus the fact that it seems designed to achieve certain pre-ordained results. Can’t believe it isn’t being used in Cook County. Their system is probably more sophisticated.
An outfit called FairVote was hired as a consultant. The organization is a nonprofit election research and reform group. I looked up this organization and lo, and behold one of their advisory members is non other than Jesse Jackson,Jr. and one of their staunchest supporters is Harvard law professor and civil rights activist Lani Guinier. But, the organization takes great pains to state that it does not support, endorse or oppose any political party or candidate. Not sure if I buy that or not.
Anyway, back to Port Chester. When their wacky election took place, there were three Hispanic candidates in the race. One of those folks managed to come in fourth, so I suppose the effort was a success. What further in=terested me was that with all the efforts to get people to vote and vote the turnout, based on the numbers did not seem so good. Of course, how do measure voter turnout , multiply eligible voters by six? Almost getting into Land of Oz stuff here.
I learned one more tidbit. FairVote has a chapter in North Carolina , so I may get an opportunity to vote multiple times myself.
Sans national and even statewide elections this year, I am devoting my attention to the Elizabeth City, NC election scene. It is rather interesting and is becoming more so as the campaigns unfold. One particular aspect that I notice as I usually do with campaigns, are the signs that candidates post. They seem to fascinate me every election that comes along.
So, as I wander around our fair city, I try to notice the signs. You remember the song, Signs, by the Canadian group, Five Man Electrical Band, from te 70′s. Sign, sign everywhere a sign, etc. That is the state we are approaching and I so enjoy it. Politics a its most basic, the local election.
I shall try to avoid naming candidates, at least for now. So many interesting things We have 3 candidates for mayor, one of whom has 0 signs that I have seen. Almost half of the candidates, including city council and have very basic signs. Name and position for which they are running. Call it the Dragnet approach. You know, Jack Webb, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Or, all you need to know is my name.Others choose to tout their experience; still others focus on the concept of change. Guess that is opposite of experience. That worked rather well in the 2008 presidential race, did it not? But this local politics, so I digress. Anyway, it intrigues me that the newcomers use such basic signs. The incumbents have the advantage of name recognition, so it would seem desirable for a challenger to attempt a catchy, memorable slogan. But, alas. there are no catchy slogans.
experience or change or a voice of or for the people. So many even used the same color scheme; navy blue on white. That must be in this season. Two signs did make me think a little. One incumbent has a sign saying leadership for a change. Seems hard to be for change when you are already there. My favorite though was one that used a play on words. The candidate’s last name is the make of a vehicle. Without using a name it is hard, so I’ll make an exception. Her last name is Hummer and the sign was “Move forward with…Hummer.”‘ Not bad. If I were voting just based on the signs I have seen, I wouldn’t.
But, then again, What do I know? I have only run one campaign for office, vice-president of my 8th grade class, Joe Biden wannabe, huh? My catch slogan was derived from Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, The slogan, the birds will get you if you don’t vote for me. Needless to say, I lost.
One last tidbit for the separation of church and state folks. We have an ordained minister running for office. The individual is using the title reverend in their campaign ads. Violate separation of church and state or not? Just wondering.
There is still quite awhile before the fall elections. And, I realize that they will not be taking place everywhere. But here in the Harbor of Hospitality, aka, Elizabeth City, there is political stuff of which to take note. Based on this very small sampling, our local elections should be fun. They are supposed to be, are they not? No matter.
First, some basic info. We have a ward system, four wards with 2 council members each and a mayor elected at- large. This will be the fourth new mayor in a row, since the incumbent decided not to run again. We have 3 candidates for mayor, 4 each in wards 1 and 2, five each in wards 3 and 4. Our total of 21 candidates is not a record but according to elections board officials virtually assures one or runoff races. Those are always fun to watch. The have been rather common locally in recent years.
The most fun so far has been about signs. Of course, one wants to get that name and face before the public as soon as possible. I have personally seen on nice billboard and only a couple of yard signs. But, naughty, naughty candidates. Seem that they have jumped the gun, City regs prohibit such advertising so far in advance. The city says that one month in advance is the rule(imagine Obama living with that one) although one cacandidate interpreted that to mean that signage was ok on private property. Not so, says the city. One former council member says the law is unconstitutional. How about that for a good early issue. And here I thought that the only issue would be the high utility rates. And, we also have a sort of stealth candidate running in ward 3 . Thus far, he has had nothing public to say. Ingenious move, if he planned it that way. By saying nothing, he has all sorts of folks wondering what he is planning. Very astute is it not?
Just a little more. We have 3 men running for mayor. One, Rick Gardner, is a former mayor who has been out of the political picture for a while. The other two, Roger McClean, a political newcomer and former council member Don Cherry. So, we have choices in all nine of the races. Let the games begin!
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not made nor will I make any financial contributions to any local candidate in this election. Nor have they paid me to mention or not mention their names. So there you have it. An remember, all politics are local. So spoke one Thomas P ( Tip) O’Neil.
For the past few years, we have hung our hats in the northeastern North Carolina town of Elizabeth City. As you can see, it is a picturesque little town located at the narrows of the Pasquotank River. As small towns go, it is operated probably no worse or no better than comparably sized towns, unless you are referring to very high electricity and water rates, but I digress.
Another amusing issue, depending on ones perspective surfaced this week. Earlier this year, City Council asked city staff to be more vigorous in enforcing rules regarding dumpsters. Now we discover that some 80 citations have been issued to various businesses requiring them to take action to conceal those unsightly waste receptacles.
Now, none of us are real fond of seeing dumpsters from the road, but wonder why in this economic climate are businesses facing an expense of at least hundreds of dollars? A number of the businesses were surprised by the citations and some comments indicated that the regs were more business friendly in the county.
So, wonder who is the culprit, City Council, the Planning Commission or those evil dumpsters? Probably only the shadow knows.
When talk turns to economic news, very little,if any, is good these days. We hear about layoffs, plant closings,packages of stimuli and no telling what else. Well, I would like to share a brief bit of economic good new, relatively speaking.Here in Elizabeth City,NC our City Council just voted for a 4% increase in our electricity rates.Why the City Council you ask and why is this good news at all?
Easy and complicated at the same time. First, the easy part. Last September if my records are correct we were blessed with a 14% rate increase so all is relative, even though that is a total of 18% in less than a year. Now for the more complicated part. Why is the City Council involved? One word- ElectriCities, a word not necessarily well thought of around here. According to their website they are ” a not for profit government service organization representing cities, towns and universities that own electric distribution systems.”
As best as I can understand Elizabeth City has been involved in this organization for a number of years. I guess it may seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, maybe not so much. The more I see and hear the more I long for the days of Duke Power and the Southern Company who were electric utilities period.
But, again referring to the above referenced website, one of the benefits we receive as ElectriCities members is that customers have a voice in the activites of their electric systems.Sure, they do, just keep on believing that.
Want another rate increase with that?
There was a brief protest march here in Elizabeth City a day or so ago . As I understand it , the protest was about action being proposed by our city council concerning a local nonprofit agency . I dont particularly want to get involved in the issue per se but rather in a facet of the march . As our Daily Advance newspaper reported , many of the marchers were children and supposedly the idea for the march came from these children. All well and good – perhaps . The newspaper photograph accompanying the article showed several people carrying signs. One of these signs bore the name of a local council member , stating that this person hates kids . Of course the person had to issue a denial . Now , I dont really know this individual except by reputation . However, I strongly doubt that they hate kids . Sad to say , this is sorta like unringing a bell, the comment was made and published and I wonder how many will believe it ?
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