Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Campaign Reflections...

First of all, thank you to all who supported my campaign to be your City Commissioner for District #3. That support came in many forms - in votes, in dollars, in well-wishes, in emotional support and in time away from other priorities - all with the intention of setting Lake Worth in a better, more resident-responsive direction. We could not have raised the level of awareness about the series of critical issues facing the city without the concerted effort of many active residents in the community. For this, you all must be commended.

Elections are one of the most important events in our democratic, representative form of government. Beyond choosing a person who will sit in a seat of power, they should also allow for active debate on critical issues. It should signal a community's success or failure in meeting the challenges it is presented - and set milestones for further progress. Most importantly, it should signal to those already in elected positions the degree to which the voting public is satisfied with the community's direction. Ideally, it should engage the governed in the process of how they will be governed.

Like voting, choosing to run for office is a voluntary act. There is no requirement that you vote and there is no requirement that you enter a political race. By electing to run, you advance your own involvement in our participatory democracy to a new level.

Given the economy and the personal financial condition in which I found myself, I fully expected to elect not to run in this year's election. I had concluded that it was time to focus on survival of self and not go through the distraction that an election causes in one's life - which I had learned more than two and a half years ago.

As the qualifying period ticked away, I became more and more concerned that there was a real possibility that the incumbent District #3 Commissioner would run unopposed. As the deadline inched closer, I thought about how, if that came to pass, the community would be robbed of the opportunity to examine and discuss the actions of the sitting City Commissioner and the general policy direction of the city. Knowing the conditions in which the city finds itself, I could not allow what would essentially be a unanimous endorsement of either.

Yesterday we learned that 42 percent of those that bothered to vote were not satisfied with the direction the city is currently headed and not happy with the decisions being made by the sitting City Commissioner. This is far from a 100 percent endorsement that an uncontested race would have indicated.

The challenge now is keeping those issues and ideas raised in the campaign alive in our on-going community debate. This is where I think our local political system breaks down. I am afraid that those currently in power will see this as the equivalent of an uncontested race - when it was really very far from it. There are many angry residents living in our city that are frustrated about some very basic and essential issues - the price of our electric and water, the City Commission acting out a self-serving agenda - creating a city whose citizens feel disenfranchised from the decision-making process.

So, there are still many things that we can do to improve the conditions we find in our city without the assistance of yours truly being on the dais. We can recommit to our neighborhood associations and demand that the city provide timely and accurate information about what is going on in City Hall. We can get to know other members of our community and other areas of the city that we don't know very well. We can let our elected officials know how we feel on a continual basis - not just every election time.

Since the election. most people - from many divergent political views - encourage me to continue what I have been doing. At this point in time, I plan on doing just that. As we all know, one never is certain what the future will bring but let's think of this experience we just shared as one more layer in a new foundation for the City of Lake Worth.

Lake Worth cannot be re-built in a day, or in one election - it has to be a continual effort.