The Slant

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Your Vote Sends a Message

By: Roderick Reed
By: Roderick Reed

A leader is someone who has vision and blazes a trail that can others follow. Good ideas coupled with charisma and connections have spectacular results in politics. Leaders with vision and new ideas are especially important in a small town. We have many issues in Laguna Beach. Parking, business diversity, pedestrian and bicyclist safety to name a few. Our leadership seems to lack what it takes to make progressive progress with our city’s problems. Much of Laguna politics is holding desperately to the 1950s. This is romantic, but not practical in 2014. This “rearview mirror planning” as its been called is paralyzing the city.

Clearly people in this town have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of leadership as evidenced by five new people seeking to shake loose three city council seats in next week’s election. The sitting council members should see the “writing on the wall;” voters are becoming anxious with this City Council. Will anything change if the incumbents get reelected? No. They will see their reelection as affirmation of their lackluster leadership. The result will be continued voter apathy and continued lost progress for our great city.

The City Council is not the enemy; it’s us. Voter apathy and not showing up to vote stops progress.

Why do so many qualified Americans fail to vote? A survey by the California Voter Foundation on the attitudes of infrequent voters sheds new light on the incentives and barriers to voting.

Some people will stand on line for two days to buy the latest, greatest cell phone. They wait many minutes in line for a latte. But many of the same people will not wait 10 minutes to exercise their right to choose their government leaders.

The survey found that 28 percent of infrequent voters and 23 percent of those unregistered said they do not vote or register because they are too busy. Voters could benefit from knowing about the time-saving advantages of early voting, voting by absentee ballot, voter registration forms available in post offices, libraries and DMV offices.

The perception that politics are controlled by special interests is widely shared among two-thirds of the survey’s respondents and represents a significant barrier to voter participation. A feeling that candidates don’t really understand them was cited as the second leading reason why infrequent voters and nonvoters do not vote. Incumbents, it’s perceived, often fail the people they represent as they fall out of touch with their electorate.

Still, 93 percent of infrequent voters agreed that voting is an important part of being a good citizen and 81 percent of nonvoters agreed it is an important way to voice their opinions on issues that affect their families and communities.

In my opinion many will forget to vote on purpose. It’s a way avoid committing to a decision. Additionally most don’t believe that incumbents will hear them.

At times we need to do a little “voter maintenance.” We patch our roofs, vacuum our carpets, etc. The better we maintain our home, the better it serves us.

It will be interesting to see if people forget to vote next week. If you don’t think the current City Council is effective, make your voice heard. If you love what the City Council does for Laguna Beach, make your voice heard.

Vote as you please, but please vote.

Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack. http://roderickreed.com/.

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