You have to care first before you vote

October 29, 2009

locator-338-empty_room

What does this empty room remind you of? You guessed it, a Ventura polling center.

During the primaries last June, I walked into Ventura’s downtown polling place on Santa Clara Street expecting the line of dedicated, vocal Americans to be stretched out the door and around the block.

What I got was something resembling more an Old West ghost town. What was that? The faint sounds of Ennio Morricone? Was that a tumbleweed that just went by?

I could hear my voice echo as I asked the polling volunteer, “Are you open?” It was late morning, the prime of the day, and I thought they had already closed.

Not so. Either everyone showed up early to vote, or nobody cared.

I like to think it was for the former reason, but every indication I get seems to point to the latter.

I’ve attended a lot of forums this season: city council candidate forums, school board candidate forums, ballot measure bickering session forums, Q&A forums. It’s part and parcel of this job to understand what’s up for vote this election, and to know, like the back of one’s hand, the ins and outs of each important issue and the people behind them.

Yet I’ve lamented at the lack of interest — and the abundance of apathy — especially from the younger (read: under 50) crowd, at any one of these important election events.

There was a statistic I recall enumerating that about 60-70% of people in any given American town don’t know the name of their own mayor.

I believe it, especially after all the news coverage we’ve afforded to everything this election season, that people still don’t understand that Measures A, B, C are more than just the first three letters of the alphabet.

Measure C, for example, won’t stop only a Wal-Mart from setting foot in the City of Ventura. (It won’t stop a Wal-Mart at all, actually.) But after some scrupulous news hounding on behalf of us at the Reporter, and vigorous campaigns from both ends of the ballot issue, you’ll still find a hearty amount of misinformed residents who don’t know Measure C from Measure Z from a hole in the ground.

And it’s not enough to close your eyes and vote for the first candidate or two your finger lands on. Each of the 15 people running for our city council stands on different issues with wildly different opinions, policies and personalities. Get to know them all … they’re all unique in more ways than you may think.

The Reporter endorses Measures A and E, and opposes Measures B and C. We also support electing Neal Andrews, Brian Brennan and Mike Tracy for City Council, and Mary Haffner and Velma Lomax for school board. Plus, we like the idea of enacting a temporary parcel fee to help out Oxnard schools.

Check out all of our election coverage at http://www.vcreporter.com … and get out there and vote on Tuesday!

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