Where do we go from here....Apathy, voting, housing & those elected!
When Walmart announced that they were coming to my little town, or maybe now, not so little town, all hell broke loose. I moved here in 1997 and we had about 2000 people here. My first year on council we had 70 new homes and the next year we had almost 300. I realize growth is hard. I am also an optimist and hope that the pain of growth will help draw some of our close to 25,000 citizens into the process.
Cibolo in the time I have been here has had a tied election, an election won/lost by 1 vote and other won by the number of family members that a candidate got to vote for the first time. Our current issue is Walmart. You had to show up early and get a ticket to have a seat in a usually sparsely filled council chamber for months while people tried to stop this project. People that didn't check zoning or land use maps came unglued that a parcel of land, formally with an industrial zoning, was now a commercial zoning and that the open field that they loved will now be developed by Walmart. So with all the frustrations, we have 9 people running for office and three of our current council members are facing a recall.
My Frustrated amazement...
Last night I was asked to host or moderate a meet the candidates forum. I made it clear that all questions would be written and since we were in a church that everything would be done respectfully. I emailed and used Facebook to collect questions and was expecting a great turnout and standing room only because of all the current interest shown by residents over Walmart. Instead, I knew most of the people in the room and we could have fit everyone into one row... easily. If not for the candidates, one of whom didn't even show up, it would have been a very empty parking lot. Some of the most pointed questions were emailed from people that didn’t even show up for the event. They wanted to drop their bomb and not have to give up any of their time, guess which questions didn't make the cut?
So Cibolo had a huge issue. People feel that they lost. Did they gave up? Decide that they would come out next time they didn't like something? I can't believe with all those that were upset and all the questions people had, that none of those orange shirt wearing, save the children from the evils of Walmart folks showed up to see who would best represent them in the future. (The move/stop Walmart people all came to meetings dressed in orange T-Shirts.)
I thought I knew the candidates last night and left with a very different understanding of some of them. All that I learned was good. We have a great slate of candidates and it should be a difficult vote, yet very few people showed up! My HOA always considers a rate hike at annual meeting, that gets people to the meeting. Maybe if we said there would be voting on a new Walmart tax abatement people would have showed?
Have people made up their minds regardless of the facts?
Our government is so off the rails, I'm not sure it will find them again. I would think voter apathy would be at an all-time low, yet, that isn't the case.
Are people so frustrated that they have given up? We have thousands of men and woman that have given their lives for our right to free and open elections, how do we get people back to the polls?