Published On: Mon, Sep 10th, 2018

Not Voting Does What?

By: C. Ron Allen

As the ballots were being tallied on election night, all indications were that Kathy Cottrell had won a seat on the Boca Raton City Council.

But then the race got interesting, or rather ca used some nail-biting moments. There was a tie, and in the wee hours there was a big question mark. Challenger Andy Thomson had taken the lead by just 3 votes: 7,879 to 7,876. The dead-heat election results automatically triggered an official recount.

After a machine and hand recount of the provisional and absentee ballots, Cottrell lost the race to Thomson by 34 votes.

With low voter turnout — about 25 percent in Palm Beach County — the outcome of the District A race underscores the importance of every vote in close elections. Regardless of your political persuasion or interest in our community, every vote matters and every vote counts. While a council seat’s race may be decided by a few votes, the difference in a national election is likely a margin of a few thousand, at least.

I sent out a text to many of my local contacts the morning following election day, thanking them for voting. Among the responses was one, “You’re going to be mad at me but I did not vote.”

She said that she did not vote because “They’re going to do what they want to do anyway. They never do what they promise during the campaigns and what difference will my vote make?”

(For the record, I was not mad at her. I just added her to my DNA – Do not Answer – list in my phone).

To dismiss this election cycle to be business as usual is a grave mistake as the status of our city and its future hinges on these five people we chose to faithfully serve and discharge the duties of public office.

The leaders you elect, make critical decisions that affect your life — the authority to encourage business growth, raise or lower taxes, shape neighborhood development, regulate garbage pickup, build more sidewalks and parks, among other things.

In retrospect though, the importance of last week’s election should not be underestimated, as the position of mayor and a council seat will be under new leadership. Although Mayor-elect Scott Singer has been pinch hitting since former mayor Susan Haynie’s suspension, he will now be put to the real test.

An attorney, Singer will need to skillfully lead the city through this legal quagmire after council members passed a de facto moratorium on development.

For those of us who consider high-density across the city as repugnant, there are those who are just as excited about the urbanism and perceived progress. As we analyze and debate the rate of growth or style of growth, we look to leadership to not only steer the discussion, but to also be cognizant of the taxpayers’ desires, concerns, and the quality-of-life expectations that are uniquely and inherently Boca Raton. No easy task, to be sure; but a challenge best met with high ethical standards and a strong moral compass.

I echo Ms. Cottrell in saying that I pray that the entire elected body will work diligently, honestly and fervently to ensure that Boca Raton’s taxpayers voice, hopes and concerns are represented to the best of their ability.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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