Today’s entry: Have you heard of Daniel Horowitz' in Baltimore or Shannon Joy's podcast in Rochester, NY? They have been hammering the importance of local influence on city/county legislators to the point of forming task groups to (properly, respectfully) hound local officials. Maybe it'd be good exposure to have them on? For our local would-be activists and for their careers, which need to rise to the next level.
Bottom Line: You’re likely familiar with my saying, every election has consequences and it’s often the one’s closest to you which have the biggest impact in your daily life. There are countless examples of that reality over the past year, especially due to the pandemic. On that note, I agree and appreciate all efforts to encourage greater awareness and engagement by voters in local elections. To the extent, I encourage activism in local elections, that’s where I feel it’s most appropriate. As we’re closing in on March municipal elections in numerous communities throughout South Florida, it’s my primary focus. Raising awareness and participation is critical. What I’m leery about is the potential impact of misapplied activism especially in today’s environment.
From where I sit, we have two primary issues when it comes to local elections. A lack of awareness and engagement by voters, as the average turnout for local only elections in the tri-county is about 18% and a lack of high-quality candidates for many important races. The type of activism which would be most constructive to improve participation in local elections would actually be aimed at South Florida voters who turn out for federal elections but don’t for local elections. It happens to be most voters. Last November 77% of eligible Floridians turned out to vote, if history holds and only around 18% turn out in this year’s municipal and related local elections, that'd leave 59% of eligible voters in the communities holding elections who voted just last fall but didn’t this year.
There’s no better form of constructive activism aimed at local officials than accountability at the ballot box. The reason many local officials aren’t as responsive as many residents would prefer is the knowledge that most won’t vote. Creating groups to “hound” those officials isn’t likely to net a different result unless they know they’ll be held to account on Election Day. Frankly, it could lead to the opposite of the desired effect occurring, especially based on the way it may be spun in local news media.
I’d prefer activism aimed at identifying, recruiting and creating a better pool of candidates for local offices. I think it’s far more effective to have better candidates who are more inclined to act in the best interests of their communities, than it is to attempt to influence mediocre local officials to do a better job.
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Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio
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