I may be running for a Town Council position, but perhaps it is time for you to hear from the Mayor of “Realville”. Here are some things about this upcoming election. First, we have had one candidate drop out of the race because of relocation. Since there does not seem to be any official notice or any news story listed anywhere, just know that it is the first name on your ballot. Don’t waste your vote for someone who will not live here anymore. This is not saying anything at all negative about that individual. That person simply has a life change going on at the moment that affects his/her living status right now. My son is actually a classmate and friend of that person’s child in the same school. I wish that family the best. I just wish that the change had come long before the election ballots were printed so as to be fair to the other seven candidates on the ballot.
Second, I am an “issues guy”. Issues matter to me. That is why I am officially “unaffiliated” when it comes to political parties. I would rather be stabbed to death with a plastic fork than be affiliated with one particular political party in this country simply because of the issues for which they stand. The other major party lost my membership because of their compromise and fecklessness on issues. There is a third party towards which my inclinations lean when it comes to personal liberty and responsibility and yet I refuse to join their party because of some abhorrent issues for which they stand. And yet another party lost my affiliation because of their pathetic leadership and uselessness.
The Town Council race is a “nonpartisan” race, meaning party affiliation allegedly means nothing in the conducting of the election. I am fine with that, but I am not opposed to it becoming a partisan race because it tells me a lot about issues and ideologies with which the candidates align themselves. Those ideologies trickle down to municipal government as much as they do state or national politics.
I have endeavored to put out the issues. I have left six and a half years of political commentary online for anyone to read to get to know what I believe and will follow ideologically. I have put out issues oriented information and positions in my campaign fliers, on my web site, on my Facebook page, and in mailers to voters. So far I have only seen one other candidate really put out any information about what he believes and stands on for the direction of the town.
I have gotten direct mail from one other candidate that really says nothing about what he believes for issues. I have heard other candidates say that the questions they were being asked were the wrong questions to ask. I have heard candidates say that they have been residents of the town for just two months before filing to run for Town Council, know nothing about this town, and that this is great for the residents of the town since she has no “pre-conceived notions” about the town. Some candidates have merely parroted the word infrastructure and I say that being one who believes that is a major issue in our town.
There are some big decisions facing the town, many of which have been either tangentially touched or ignored for years. The same issues facing the town now were facing us sixteen years ago when I first ran for Town Council. And again, fourteen years ago. Only this time some of these issues have impacted us already in a negative manner and defeated the stated goal of every previous Council and Mayor I have heard since I moved to this town about increasing the tax base and encouraging people to move here. Now it is time to dig in and work seriously on these as priority items. When we must tell developers that they cannot build here because we cannot support their water and sewer needs and we have known that these were needs for two decades, then there is a problem that has only grown. I have said from the start that we need to enumerate our priority items, set them as our priorities, and work those priorities. And that takes time. It takes the investment of funds, all of which come from taxpayers. And it takes using wisdom, responsibility, and accountability.
Not every town department is going to get its wishes fulfilled. Not every department will move at the same pace towards its stated needs. But we can chip away at it all, bit by bit. We need to do the things we should have been doing for years and not waver from that.
None of this is going to be accomplished by a new marketing slogan or fresh town logo. None of this is going to be achieved by a new magazine ad or news story. It is also not going to be accomplished by begging for grant money from the federal government like 22,512 other municipalities, counties, and states are going to be doing. And keep in mind that every grant or federal loan dollar we get are also taxpayer dollars. We are not going to accomplish anything by just being or even claiming to be optimistic about our future. Personally, I believe more in the Law of Entropy than eternal optimism. That does not mean that we cannot work to reverse entropy.
Selma has a lot going for it with our small-town feel, our geographic location, and the resources that we do have. But we need to entrust people who will put our town needs as a priority rather than “feel good” projects that are more personal agenda projects than anything else.
My wife and I did the early voting thing last week. I am personally not a fan of early voting, but I wanted to get it out of the way and not allow election day campaigning or presence to be a distraction at the polling center. Early voting ends on October 30th. Early voting has been light so far in the entire county, especially since this is a municipal election that typically draws low voter turnout anyway. Also, the only early voting location in the entire county is at the Board of Elections office in Smithfield. That trip does not appeal to everyone. At least while we were leaving the building, two Selma east precinct voters came in, which was nice to see, so I know that some town voters were at least showing up.
Do your research. Know your candidates. Know the issues. And please vote.