Editorial-Why You Should Vote In The Aug. 14 Primary Election!
Even though I went into the 2008 election season with an open mind and watched all of the debates prior to making my selection, as a registered Republican, I took quite a bit of abuse four years ago for endorsing Democratic candidate (and now, U.S. President) Barack Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain to be our country’s top executive officer.
This year, I will admit that I’m even more torn — and will likely remain that way until I find out who Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate — about the upcoming election. No, I don’t believe Pres. Obama has made good on all of his promises and although I see some evidence of the local economy rebounding, it certainly hasn’t happened quickly enough for my tastes.
So, if Gov. Romney picks someone as a running mate who can make me feel more comfortable about who would be running this country if something happened to him — such as former U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice or ret. Gen. Colin Powell — who to endorse in this so-called “big” election might be easy for me.
But, speaking on that topic, the reason I put “big” in quotes is because I still hear waaaaay too often when discussing voting — from otherwise very intelligent people — “I only vote in the ‘big’ elections.” If you honestly believe that voting for U.S. President is a “bigger” election for us than the elections of our county commissioners, state legislators and/or our local school board representatives, well, I simply don’t understand your logic.
In terms of just the value of your vote, even if the state of Florida again comes down to a recount, the likelihood that your single vote — out of a few million votes statewide and tens of millions nationwide — might “sway” the presidential election in any way is very low, indeed.
However, considering that fewer than 40 percent of the nearly 300,000 registered voters in Pasco took part in the August primary elections in 2008, when nearly 74 percent of all registered voters in the county cast ballots in the 2008 general election, it’s definitely possible that a committed bloc of local voters can affect the outcome of one or more of the races to determine who will run your state and county governments and the Pasco School Board.
In the case of the School Board elections, the August “primary” is always the only vote for these non-partisan elections, which will elect just one of the five Board members (District 2, where current Board chair Joanne Hurley faces “conservative candidate” Don Stephenson; all county commission and School Board seats are elected countywide in Pasco) for 2012-13. Two seats were up for grabs, but District 4 incumbent Alison Crumbley will be re-elected (since she’s running unopposed).
In case you hadn’t heard this, the School Board members determine how the Pasco School District spends its money on your children’s schools, including when and how to build new ones, which schools (if any) will have to add portable classrooms, etc., and make a myriad of other decisions that affect the lives of every one of the parents, kids, teachers and staff at every local elementary, middle and high school.
You say your kids are all in private school, so what do you care about voting for the School Board? For one thing, many of these schools are located within your communities, even if your kids don’t attend them, so how those schools are taken care of in the face of ever-shrinking budgets might be of some interest to you.
Looking past the School Board, however, those who run our county government play an even bigger role in our lives by controlling the purse strings for things like new and improved roads and parks, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and Fire Dept., etc. Even though our District 2 commissioner Pat Mulieri doesn’t have to run this year, she could have three new colleagues on the Board, as the District 1, 3 and 5 seats are all being contested now...and could be over long before November. For example, in District 1, incumbent Ted Schrader faces two Republican challengers on August 14. If any of the trio — which includes Ronald E. Oakley and Wesley Chapel Republican Club member Rachel O’Connor — wins more than 50 percent of the vote in this “Universal Primary” (which means everyone can vote in the election, even though all three candidates are Republicans), there will be no runoff; that candidate will win the seat. If none of the three garners more than 50 percent, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff in September.
In District 3, there are five Republicans squaring off to see who faces Democrat Matthew R. Murphy in November. The winner will replace current Board chair Ann Hildebrand.
And, in District 5, incumbent Jack Mariano will face just one opponent, fellow Republican William “Bill” Gunter, in a winner-takes-the-seat race. And yes, all Wesley Chapel residents also can help elect a new District 17 State Senator from among former State Rep. Rob Wallace, Lutz resident John Korsak and current State Rep. John Legg in yet another all-Republican “Universal Primary.”
In other words, definitely watch or go take part in the Republican National Convention next week, but if you really want to do something to invest in your community, I hope you’ll remember to cast a ballot on Tuesday, August 14!
We will have full Wesley Chapel Primary Election results next issue!