Wars are fought over the right to vote.
We had a nasty little conflict back in the 1700s because we objected to being taxed without representation. If anyone told us today that we could not vote for our representatives, even gun-hating people like me would consider taking up arms to defend that right.
Time and again, I get into discussions (online or in the neighborhood) with people who are “mad as hell” and aren’t “going to take this anymore,” to quote Howard Beale from the 1976 movie “Network.” Sadly, it is easier to rant on Facebook than to actually take time to learn about the candidates and vote.
What amazes me is that these Facebook people are already on the internet. So why don’t they take the next step to check out who is running for office and look at the websites of the various candidates?
Turnout is especially bad when it’s an odd-year election, which doesn’t involve national races. Only 6.8% of registered voters in Bloomington took the time to vote in the 2017 primary. Then 25.1% came out to vote in the November general election that year. And 2015 was even worse. A paltry 4.9% voted in the primary and just 14.7% in the general election.
Do people not vote because they are too busy? Or don’t care? Do they think local elections don’t matter? Or do they feel you can’t “fight city hall,” so why bother?
This year, Bloomington has two very significant positions that are open and do not have an incumbent running for re-election: mayor and at-large city council member. In addition, districts 1 and 2 will have elections, and both of those have incumbents running.
There is always the “catch 22” of wanting a candidate with experience and also wanting fresh, new voices, especially after a city has had the same leadership for decades. Therefore, I believe it is very important to attend candidate forums and check out candidate websites to learn about their values and visions for Bloomington.
In the last few weeks, some of the new candidates have asked to have coffee with me. It was great to hear them flesh out their priorities and also how they feel about some of the hot projects being discussed in the city right now: The South Loop/MOA waterpark, the community center, ranked-choice voting and paving a river valley trail. I welcomed the opportunity to see how their values aligned with mine.
Local elections are officially nonpartisan. Sadly, this year I see more being posted about which party is endorsing which candidates. It would be refreshing if there was more of an emphasis on people over parties rather than just blindly voting along a party line, or voting because of who has endorsed a candidate.
People will have to decide if they are happy with how things are going or if they think it is time for change and a new vision for Bloomington. Then step away from the computer, and Facebook, and go vote.
Pam Pommer, a graduate of Lincoln Senior High School, lives in Bloomington, where she enjoys gardening and spending time with her shelties.