The 1,500 people who voted in favor of the bonds and Kingman Crossing questions on the Nov. 6 ballot surely are disappointed with this election's results. And I'm sure a much larger number of people who didn't vote are equally disappointed, maybe even feeling a little brow-beaten by RAID and the majority that voted against everything.
The message to city leaders, admittedly, was clear, and while Kingman Crossing may have stalled as a result and very necessary improvements are at least another year away, the citizens of this community made the statement that they will be heard; on Nov. 6 and from now on.
Beyond the 1,500 disgruntled constituents, the rest didn't vote, so unless they're felons or illegals (or journalists), their dissatisfaction is a result of non-action and they can cry themselves a river because I don't care.
Some are whining about the "silent majority" not getting to the ballot box, but this year's turnout - 4,178 ballots cast - was impressive.
For a non-candidate election, in Kingman, a 28-percent turnout is awesome. Only 34 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2006 mayoral race. That's a 6 percent difference, but it's only 135 more votes than were cast in the boring budget-related ballot measures in this past election. Records show a 28.6 percent voter turnout in the 2006 primary election - three-quarters of a percentage point more than this November but 233 fewer ballots cast. Considering the 21 percent turnout in the 1994 bond election, I believe this November was a success. But gloating won't get you anywhere. So stop. There's something I must share: Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?
I always prefer the bad news first, personally, because the good news dilutes the effect of the bad news, unless the good news isn't very good or you get tricked into thinking there's good news but then there's actually no good news at all.
Rest assured, I won't trick you; there is good news. And really, the bad news isn't all that bad. Basically, your votes on Nov. 6 didn't matter. All the months of sifting through the rhetoric and the speculation and high hopes didn't matter. Worthless. If in March and May you don't put people in power who can handle the responsibility - the scrutiny, the obligation and the necessity to have a plan of action - then seeing "positive news" in the paper about your leaders bringing in an Olive Garden or making downtown the bustling marketplace it has the potential to become is less likely than Les Byram winning re-election. That's the bad news.
The good news (I told you I had some), is that if you pay attention, learn as much as you can about the candidates and get out to vote in four months, then you have a much greater chance of seeing progressive things come out of City Hall - and positive news in the paper. No more bickering about well sites and the bidding process, no more IRS threats and accusations against residents of both criminal and moral ills from the mayor and Council members, no more easily avoidable lawsuits and no more looking the other way at city staff's screwjob policies.
A new Council may be able to do these things, but you, as taxpayers, as members of this community and as voters, must put in power people who will treat you with respect (before and after the campaign season) and who will continue to both represent your views as well as take action to jumpstart Kingman.
Councilman Tom Spear, who is the first (...) to announce that he will not seek re-election next spring, recently described the Council and mayor as reactive rather than proactive. It's demonstrated in their actions, he said; evidenced by: thumb-sucking during evaluations of the city manager; thumb-sitting with regard to the e-mail lawsuit and the city manager's violation of the electronic communications policy; and thumb-eye-poking when Council eliminated the entire economic development department because of the mayor's personality conflict with the director. (Anybody agree that'll set us back growth-wise?)
Gone are the days of Vice Mayor Dave "Conflict of Interest" French with his executive position at the airport and Tom "the Crowd Pleaser" Carter with his very heart-felt, praise-me-style of rhetoric after every Council vote. Many believe we need more of a mayor, not Les.
I'll admit now that I tricked you. I should have asked in what order you wanted to hear the good news and the two bad newses, because I have more bad: the Council and mayor you vote into office four months from now will be hiring Kingman's next city manager. You don't have a vote on there, but you do have a voice. If you can walk or wheel yourself to the voting booth, then you sure as heck can write a letter or e-mail message to your newly elected leaders about what you want in a city manager.
If you install leaders with integrity and determination for improvement during the Council election, hopefully, you won't have to warn Council during the city manager hiring process not to let the winning candidate write his or her own employment contract like the last one did.
The next four months are the lull period between elections, but your participation is needed. You can neither take credit for having a hand in the betterment of Kingman nor can you justifiably voice complaints about its problems if you don't exercise at least your most basic civic duty.
It's the least you can do.