Thursday, August 11, 2016

Opinion Page: Election To Determine City's Future

Fairhope, Alabama

By now almost everyone should be aware of the election coming up on August 23rd; fortunately for us there is a full slate of candidates here -- and no incumbent is running un-opposed, unlike some nearby towns where no challengers showed up at all: a worst-case scenario.

This is our best opportunity to hold our representatives accountable for their performance so far -- and the direction they have chosen for our city.

When asked what had happened by a citizen after the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin famously observed "a Republic" had been created, "if you can keep it."

"Keeping it" means doing one's civic duty and educating yourself about the candidates and issues, going to the polls to vote periodically, and attending government meetings in the interim -- lest the special interests take over.

Then, those elected to office have responsibility to be transparent and open in all public matters according to applicable sunshine laws, so the public can keep track of it all: secrecy may be easier and less controversial but it will not do.

It's important to realize though that  Franklin and company specified being a 'Republic', where leaders are called on to vote their own conscience -- not always taking the politically expedient way out and basing votes on the opinions of the majority of citizens in the room at one time or another: the Founder's realized that way leads to chaos and disaster.

Citizen involvement is the key to a successful community, just siting at home in front of the TV whining and complaining about how bad things are is futile.

Publisher's note: This is the beginning of our new commentary section, to reflect the opinions of editors, reporters and others at the Times)