Saturday, February 03, 2007

Case In Point By Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.
—Benjamin Franklin

On Tuesday about twenty percent of us will head out to the polls to cast our vote in the mayoral primary. I suppose if there had only been two candidates running, there would be no need for the primary election. The election does have a price tag and some find it a waste of money while others believe that possibly electing a mayor to office who has not received a majority of the vote bad enough that they like the current process. If you remember back a few years, a mayor simply needed a plurality and could win the election with much less than fifty percent. In fact, we had mayors elected who had received about twenty percent of the vote. Sadly, since a tiny portion of eligible voters actually bother to cast votes in municipal elections, the chief administrator of the City can be put into office literally by garnering a couple thousand votes.
Some citizens have experienced the process long enough that they have become cynical about the whole affair. I have to admit, I can understand the sentiment. However, there is something more important than our personal feelings about elections and government – namely, our role as active participants in our democratic-republic. It isn’t much to ask of us to head to the polls up to four times a year and do our duty. Too many Americans like to beat the drum of patriotism by sticking a yellow, “Support our Troops” sticker on our car and listen to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood but fail to vote in election after election. It reminds me of a quote by Mark Twain who said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” It seems to fit that, the patriot who has the right to vote but does not do so has no advantage over the man who cannot vote. I completely understand not voting on every issue every time because there are times when one feels less than well-informed on an issue and therefore, just makes a decision not to vote (think of all of those state judges who show up from time to time on the ballot). On Tuesday, and in April, and in August, and again in November, remember to thank a Veteran but do more than that; honor the sacrifices made by our soldiers by partaking in America at the most basic level – inform yourself as best you can and go to the polls.

I would like to segue into two areas from this point. The first area is simply this: some states lawmakers and governors have begun to recognize the importance of a paper trail at the polls. It is absolutely necessary that our elections can be verified and that we do not depend on trust in a private company to safeguard this fundamental part of our system. Continue to write all of your elected officials on state and federal levels to demand a voting system that can be verified and trusted. One good resource to check out in this matter would be:

Next, if you have never listened to “Story Corps” (a traveling oral history project) from National Public Radio which is played every Friday morning around 7:30am, I would encourage you to do so and if you have internet access, go to and simply type “Story Corps” into the search bar for the site. You will get a list of the latest recordings played on NPR. Listen to the story titled, “The Little Brother who made the World Bigger” from January 26, 2007. Lt. Travis John Fuller who was killed in a helicopter accident in Iraq is eulogized by his two sisters. Their story one of personal loss and a solemn way to contemplate the full measure the American soldier gives when called to duty.