Saturday, November 5, 2011

Five Things to Think About When Voting on Tuesday -- and Three Candidates To Support

Tuesday is Election Day in Ventura. Your vote is really important in this election. Because we have off-year elections, turnout is low – about half what it is in other elections. That means your vote counts twice as much. Don't let somebody else decide who will sit on your City Council.

There are 11 candidates running for three seats on the city council. I am endorsing my council colleagues Christy Weir and Carl Morehouse for re-election and Cheryl Heitman for the seat I am vacating. The other 8 candidates are, in alphabetical order, Ed Alamillo, Marty Armstong, Melody Joy Baker, Carla Bonney, Danny Carrillo, Ken Cozzens, Bill Knox, and Brian Lee Rencher. (They appear in a different order on the ballot.) Most of these folks are probably familiar to you by now.

Before I explain why I have endorsed Christy, Carl, and Cheryl, let me talk a little about the things I think all of us as voters should take into account when we fill out our ballots. So here are my five commandments about voting.

First, don’t throw your vote away on somebody who isn’t going to win because you want to register a protest. People often do this because they are mad or because they want to send a message. This impulse is understandable, but what you’re really doing is letting somebody else decide who is going to be on the City Council.

Second, don’t vote for somebody because you know their name or they’re a nice guy or a familiar face. These are qualifications for a good neighbor, but they are not qualifications for a good city Council member. Vote for people you think are capable of understanding the issues and making good decisions.

Third, don’t vote for candidates who have a narrow or extreme agenda. Particularly in Ventura, which is a politically diverse city, good governance involves balancing lots of different interests to create an enduring consensus. Somebody with a narrow or extreme agenda may make a lot of noise, but he or she is likely to be ineffective at best.

Fourth, don’t vote for candidates who tell you that everything will be fine and you don’t have to sacrifice anything. It’s always tempting for politicians to say this, but it’s never true. Especially in this prolonged economic downturn, we have all had to sacrifice something – and these sacrifices will likely have to continue. Better to have councilmembers who understand this than councilmembers who deny it in order to be popular.

And fifth, please vote for candidates who can make tough decisions and stick with them. This economic downturn has lasted far longer and has had a much more lasting impact than any of us could have imagined three or four years ago. No matter what we do, it will be many years before we have as much revenue as we had in 2007 or 2008. This means we have to keep making tough decisions about what public services are most important, how to pay for them, and how to change things around so we can deliver them more cost-effectively. We cannot afford to have politicians looking for the easy way out on our City Council.

I support Christy, Carl, and Cheryl because I believe they are all committed to Ventura; they all understand our community well; and they are willing to make the tough decisions.

I’ve known and worked with all three of them for many years. Christy is tough-minded and community-oriented. Carl is hardworking and conscientious. Cheryl knows our community very well and understands how to bring people together. All are independent thinkers – exactly what we need in Ventura – and all will be able to make the tough decisions that will help us survive in the short term and improve our community in the long run.

Please vote on Tuesday. I hope you vote for Christy, Carl, and Cheryl, as I am doing. Please email me if you want to know more.