Monday, May 14, 2007


Lakeland Ledger political writer Bill Rufty makes an excellent point in his column this morning. It's no secret that municipal elections draw far fewer voters when they're not scheduled with a major state or national election. But above and beyond the usual argument that it's everyone's right and responsibility to help choose their governmental leaders, sometimes there are certain issues that should cause people to turn out and cast their ballots.

Here in Lakeland, the city-owned electric utility has entered into a couple of bad deals, most notably with the Florida Municipal Power Agency on which it will have lost an estimated $90 million between 2001 and the time the deal expires at the end of this year.

Rufty reminds us that while the LE losses were a major issue in the 2005 election where four seats were being decided --- all but one being sought by incumbants, including the mayor...and all won reelection --- one would have thought that it would result in a higher turnout, especially among the precients that have a higher percentage of low income residents.

That was not to be. Rufty notes that among two precients with a higher concentration of working poor, the turnout was five and seven percent, while the highest turnout was in one of the most affluent areas of Lakeland, with 25 percent.

Just another reminder, friends, that it is one thing to complain about the way things are. But if we truly want change in the way things are done, two things have to happen:

1) We have to have candidates who are truly concerned and willing to work to make changes happen. I don't mean idelogues such as Jeb Bush, who often took a "my way or no way" approach in dealing with people while governor. At the same time, everyone needs to be aware that change doesn't usually come in one huge sweep. Issues are often complex, and comprimises usually have to be made in order to take small steps toward the eventual goal.

2) Take advantage of your responsibility as a citizen and vote, wheather it be a presidential or municipal election. Learn about the issues, find a candidate who is willing to work toward making changes, and support him/her! Yeah, many of us have lives with jobs and families, and supposedly don't have time for other endeavors. However, if you don't take advantage of the opportunity to make changes, it simply won't happen.

Thanks to Mr. Rufty for the reminder.


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