As Foster City weathers its way through another election process, a post mortem seems to be worth reviewing.
Whether the candidate you voted for won or not is of a lesser importance than your being able to express your choice. It is unfortunate that our right to choose our leaders is often taken for granted. One of the most notable issues of the recent election was the voter turnout or lack thereof. The 2005 election included eight controversial State propositions drawing over 50% of the 15,000 plus Foster City voters to the polls.
This year’s election was void of State or Federal issues and drew about 20% of the registered voters to the polls. This is not meant to be an indictment on voters or the lack thereof but more of an observation. Between the mix of our busy daily lives and the continuing pressures of the economic conditions most assuredly our attention was drawn to things other than elections.
Election of our City Council happens in odd numbered years while State and Federal elections occur in even numbered years. It is true the State and Federal elections draw more attention than local elections, but the importance of the local elections are not of lesser importance.
Local leaders are the decision makers that affect our quality of life, our property values, and the pride we have in our city. The City has responsibility for public safety, infrastructure, and public amenities such as roadways and parks. It is the City that makes sure that we have adequate police and fire personnel, equipment, and training to respond to emergencies. It is the City that makes sure that when you turn the faucet, clean water is available and that our wastewater is handled properly. It is the City that ensures that our roads are free of potholes and our parks are manicured to please the eye. All these things are maintained without much fanfare.
Foster City has been a well run municipality for many years and credit needs to be handed to prior City Councils for their economic foresight and sound fiscal management and to the recent City Councils for maintaining that theme. The ballots from all the cities in San Mateo County contained no less than 12 measures to either continue a tax or increase one. You will also find that many of these cities are reducing staff and services as well.
The last time Foster City proper has had a ballot measure to increase taxes was when? As the State continues to take funds from the local governments to balance their budgets, as unpleasant as that sounds, we could be starting such a measure in the near future.
All elections are important and even more so as managing our way out of the economic morass in which we find ourselves will require good choices from voters and those elected alike. So we should consider carefully our decision to vote.
I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 25, 2009
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