Twelve percent voting turnout; shame on you, St. George!

elections

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Dallas Hyland is a developing columnist for St. George News and blogs as The Amateur Broad Thinker. The opinions stated in this article are solely his own and not those of St. George News.

The primary election for St. George city council was held last week and all I can think to say to my fellow citizens is SHAME ON YOU!

While there is a neck and neck bid between Sam Laub and Tara Dunn for the sixth contender that will be settled this week, the sad and disconcerting fact is there was only an estimated 12 percent turnout for the primary election and, of the six who will go on to November elections, the top three in overall votes were incumbents.

Does anyone find it plausible that those who currently hold office are representative of the majority of citizens in St. George – given that only 12 percent actually voted?

This is to say, by inference from the turnout, that the current city council must have its finger on the heartbeat of this community and is doing an impeccable job.

Guess what? If this primary election is any indication of what this community wants from its governance then the council is spot-on in assuming so.

I spend an inordinate number of hours on a weekly basis talking with people of all backgrounds and ideologies in this town. I attend hearings, summits, city council meetings, and read voraciously on matters concerning St. George.

What I gather from all of this is that the answer to my first question, that is whether or no the those currently in office represent the majority of St. George citizens, might just be no. But unless the people of this great town vote, we will be relegated in silence to accept the assumptions that the current council holds: That being that they are doing the will of their constituency and, in fact, doing it well.

Do you agree?

Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, it is reasonable to assume that you understand one thing: What makes our nation unique is our willingness to allow for opposing points of view in our governing process.

The founding fathers of this nation established principles that guarantee us the freedom to openly, and without threat of recourse, question our elected officials; in fact, we have the freedom to instruct them on what it is we want them to do in the interest and well being of our society.

We have checks and balances that keep one ideology or another from becoming too extreme and too powerful. This should keep any one ideology from enforcing a will upon the community that is inconsistent with the community’s best interests.

At present, from the vantage point of an observer, it seems that the current city council has no such checks and balances.

I have attended a number of their meetings in the past few months which allow me to offer an empirical hypothesis: I have yet to see them resolve anything with less than a unanimous vote, so I wonder if there is diverse representation on the council?

While a percentage of this paltry 12 percent who turned out to vote for them might be in agreement with them, I would contend a more realistic portrait of the overall population of this city’s view on things would be evident if more of you got off of your internet soap boxes and checked a ballot in November.

And, I might add, if you do not, please keep your complaints to yourself.

It might be cliché to say this, but if you do not exercise your fundamental right to make your voice heard, your opinion is essentially ineffective. In voicing it without the action of your vote, you show contempt for not only the process but for the blood spilled that ensured you have the right to be heard.

You also make a mockery of yourselves when you opine in fictitious names; these are guises professed to buffer and protect your privacy. I suspect that in reality you do not wish to be held accountable for what you say. For those who exercise their voice in these ways, your version of taking a stand is safe at best and likely cowardice at the worst.

While I may or may not agree with our elected officials and candidates, I can say with no fear or reservation that I respect them for having the guts to put their name next to their convictions and to place their lives in the service of their communities and country.

You can do the same.

Vote people. If you do anything in the months to come, anything of noteworthy courage, vote. Please.

See you out there.

dhyland@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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23 Comments

  • urbanboy September 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I think the reality of the reality is people simply are caught up in their own lives and are so sick of the negative political media, we’re not even paying attention to community issues. Politicians and everything are so based on what people wanna hear, or image to win over the people to get that vote when at the end of the day, it’s all talk, no action. The average human being has his nose stuck in his phone texting or engaged in the online social media jive, or on the more extreme; high or under the influence to numb the pain or to ‘escape’. Today’s technological, fast paced life is making it so one doesn’t even notice the beauty of everyday life anymore, like the scenery, seasons changing or the sun setting. The times are so complicated and complex, we’re worried about a job and having food on the table, or bills paid to keep a roof over our heads and just surviving. All that said, no wonder your readers had to laugh and comment when STG was referred to as a , quaint little town in one of your recent articles. So to say citizens must not mind the way the community is currently being run by the low voter turn out, is a very shallow statement when you put all things into perspective.

  • urbanboy September 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Btw, I registered to vote online and I was told I’d receive a confirmation from my county leaders(?) via email, nothing. So I would’ve voted in the midst of the chaos in this “quaint lil town” on Tuesday, but couldn’t. So, how many dozens or hundreds are in the same boat??

  • Peachesncream September 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I know beggers can’t be choosers, however I cannot stand the way this semi romantic little city is run today by all those soft spoken, self righteous religious heads in office. But maybe, jus maybe I’m not the only one around here who simply doesn’t care to vote 😛

  • demitruis jackson September 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    excuse me, but did you not take into consideration that your fellow citizens may have other priorities or also the fact many of us are new to the area and haven’t a clue about local city government or who is running? y’all virtually have no local TV advertising just picket signs everywhere which do no good for somebody like me which is surprising for the size of y’all community. now i know i’m new and can’t vote do to lack of knowledge, however, i have done my research via local news wikipedia etc., and until minorities AND youth have a place and a voice around here, nothin’s fixin to change, no matter how bold y’all city’s letters get on the U.S. map. god bless

    • Jon Martin September 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

      Agreed. Our organization, the Washington County Minority Coalition, is trying to offer a voice to the minorities in this community and letting the local government know that we deserve a say as well.

  • tyler September 19, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Lol, come on Dallas, you know who the typical voting people are in the STG…sheep sheep sheep, nobody here has backbone, they do as they’re told or what their ‘elders’ do! some things never change. smh!

  • LaMarcus September 20, 2011 at 6:58 am

    12% turnout is disgraceful! Voting is a huge responsibility for every citizen and it should not be ignored. I feel that there is an overwhelming sense of apathy in this area (and nationwide) that people use to choose not to participate. Why vote, they say, nothing ever changes. I’ve heard that many times when it comes to a new election, or any election for that matter.

    The problem with that is, 12% of the people vote but 99% of the people whine and complain about every thing that goes on with their government whether it be at the City, County, State or Federal level.

    I vote because it’s my responsiblity to do so and to educate myself on the issues and people running for that office. Also, after I have voted, it is my license to complain too. If I’m not happy with my elected officials the fact that I participated gives me the right to critic their choices and how they behave in office.

    If you did not vote, well then you need to excuse yourself from those political discussions because you forfeited your right to complain because you DID NOT VOTE. So get out there and vote dangit !

    • GinaA. November 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Amen! I hate hearing all the whiners that nothing will change and then they admit openly that they don’t care to vote, etc. What a load of crap! And blaming the way the area government runs because of the local dominant religion is uneducated. This area is very diverse in religion and people and if only a certain group gets out and votes for others who they see as someone who represents them, then so be it…it’s your fault not getting out there to vote. I’ve lived here a good deal of the time and I’m sorry, but if you don’t like it, then leave or don’t come here…but don’t sit around and complain and then not try to do something about it.

  • Ralph September 20, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Off-year primary election voter turnout is ALWAYS poor. Based on the amount of time you claim to have spent in the process, you should be well aware of the voter turnout phenomenon. The most recent off-year primary election is no exception and is also no circumstance from which to draw a hard and fast conclusion about St. George voters.

    Your comments about checks and balances are absurd. You need to take a constitutional government class to better understand what is meant by “checks and balances” before you state that the current city council has none.

    The reality is that checks and balances exist for the current city council. They do not enforce their own laws or interpret in a court of law their own actions.

    I too am disgusted that noone votes and that less than 1/6 of the population determines the leadership for 100% of us. Voting is a duty and obligation under our system. The problem is that people do not understand our system.

  • Big Bob September 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I think there’s two key factors, one, people just don’t give a damn, which is sad cuz a segment the size of a small neighborhood of our city’s population runs the show, two, people are uneducated about the people running. it’s difficult to know about who’s running when you have picket signs or newspapers (which only reach some) and lack of TV/radio ads. It’s no wonder the same vote for the same. What a shame indeed!

  • Karen September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I agree with Big Bob and some others about how hard candidate info is to come by. I didn’t vote this time (for the first time!) because of the hours I spent last time conscientiously searching online for candidate information. And I’m supposed to do that again, so soon? I don’t think so! Won’t vote in a city election next time either if no info arrives in my mailbox. I studied one long Spectrum article about the candidates, which was good but not convenient for comparisons.

  • Mike September 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Ok, for all you people wanting candidate information dropped in your couch-potato laps…

    The cost for TV ad production and airing: many thousands of dollars. Target population: less than 3% of the TV station’s coverage (estimate of St George city population at 75,000 with total state population of 2.7 million). It makes no sense to advertise in St George on the Salt Lake-based TV stations… maybe KCSG, if that’s still around and anybody watches it. And, if someone DID advertise on TV, would you really want that financially irresponsible person in control of your tax dollars?

    Radio Advertising: approximately $1200 a month, per station, for three 60-second ads a day. From my experience, you’ll pay the same price even if you only want a 30-second ad, and you should expect almost a year for the ads to work (Yes, I’m a disgruntled former radio-advertiser). Don’t forget that there are about 10 candidates per city, with St George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Washington, Hurricane, La Verkin, and Cedar City all sharing the same radio coverage and therefore the same airtime. 7 cities, 10 candidates each, so 70 candidates… 3 ads a day, so 210 ads a day spread over a few stations… but which stations? Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.

    Newspaper: Do you really expect The Spectrum to provide details for all 70 candidates? While I’m not a subscriber, nor do I read much on their website, I know they TRIED to give briefs on most of the St George candidates. It should be enough to lead you in the right direction for asking questions and getting more information.

    Best Option (and I think the one that most candidates choose): Word-of-Mouth. This place is still too small for major media advertising, and the best way to get your information out is to tell people about it, which they usually do. This town is also small enough that you should be able to find out the information you need by simply talking to some of your friends… I guarantee they’ll know, or know someone who knows, about the candidates. Get off your couch and out of your cave… After all, you’re down here for the weather, aren’t you?

    Anyway, don’t come to a place like St George and expect it to be like Vegas. It’s pretty clear how things are done around here and, for better or worse, it’s just the way it is. Don’t blame your ineptitude for finding candidate information on the lack of in-your-face exposure. I guess if you want more ads, start donating to a campaign, but I hope you’ll have sufficient information BEFORE you do that.

    And Karen, keep checking that obsolete mailbox for a stack of candidate pamphlets and fliers… hopefully it will arrive before the post office shuts down.

    • bith September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

      This comment and the very first comment from urbanboy should be combined. If this and urbanboys were combined it would be a perfect pamphlet for both sides. That being said I’ve lived in the stg my entire life. Not too much has changed as far as things are ran around here. Things seem to go smoothly around this town for the most part, so even with a 12% voter turnout things shouldn’t change too much here. Regardless of voter turnout the people in this community will continue to thrive and be just fine.

  • Big Bob September 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Ok Mike calm down buddy! I disagree, this town is not too small for a major TV network, you apparently haven’t been elsewhere outside of Utah. fact is, if St George had its own mainstream TV station, it would serve thousands and thousands in a market covering all of So. Utah up into central Utah, maybe even NW Arizona and Mesquite. So you are wrong there. Also, referring us as couch potatoes only reflects your ignorant thinking. We are in the information age. No, we’re not SLC or Vegas, however, technically, we are a metropolitan area of well over 100,000, to experience lack of information is next to ridiculous!

    • Mike September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      Bob, I’ve only been in St George for about 5 years, but regardless of what a “technical” definition of a metropolitan area is, your own ignorant thinking is leading you astray. If St George can handle it’s own mainstream TV station, why hasn’t KCSG taken off? Most likely because, similar to my comment before, no money-conscious business is willing to pay what it would cost to advertise on a larger station with more coverage when only half of the viewers are the target audience. TV stations don’t run on people willing to watch, they run on people willing to pay for ads. I can’t say that it wouldn’t be nice to have a big, local TV station with a focus on local activities, but remember that “local” is relative when you’re talking about the population density between central Utah and southern Nevada.

      Also, don’t take my comments so personally. The “couch potato” remark was directed at Karen, who wants the mailman to provide the information she thinks is necessary.

  • tyler September 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    GREAT STORY AND GREAT COMMENTS!!!! WE NEED MORE ACTION LIKE THIS LOL

  • tyler September 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Mike, I work in the busy public of St George on a daily basis, I rarely talk to people and rarely see friends/people I know. You need to get out more, this hasn’t been an everybody-knows-your-name town for a while, man. Seems your mentality is that of the mayor or city council, stuck in the old days when this was a dusty, quaint little town.

  • urbanboy September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Ok so this town is still small, but considering its the only signifacant population center in mostly rural southern Utah, it’s by far bigger than any other town between Provo and Vegas no doubt. But size isn’t the topic here as much as 12 percent voting being horrible for a place that desperatly needs change.

  • Mike September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Tyler, I also work in the “busy public” of St George on a daily basis, and I can agree that this isn’t an everybody-knows-your-name town anymore, but when you said you rarely talk to people or see people you know, you proved my point for me. My suggestion was to actually talk to people and find out what they know, because there are plenty of people who are in tune with random community topics. Unfortunately, the rumor-mill that is St George is faster than my DSL and can do more harm than good.

    While I’m amused to see your comparison between the current city council and myself, I can understand your mistake since you seemed to overlook my suggestion of actually talking to people (regardless of how well you know them). St George isn’t a quaint little town, but it’s certainly not Metropolis.

    And for the record… out with the old, in with the new. The current city leaders may not be all bad, but they’re definitely not all good… a few fresh sets of eyes is a good start.

    Now we’re having some fun, aren’t we?

  • tyler September 22, 2011 at 6:16 am

    HAHA!! Oh we’re having fun and duh, we’re far from a metropolis however we are classified under U.S census as a metropolitan area (anything over 50,000) so we’ve outgrown rural cow country status quite a few years ago! But……. Mike I proved my point on the TV jive, tiny, Elko Nevada, population 18,000, smaller than Cedar City, has NBC afffiliate KENV-TV News 10!! (google Elko,NV wikipedia) St George is “too small” for a major TV network huh???

  • tyler September 22, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Also Mike, KCSG is not taking off and does not stand for how TV news would be here because of it’s absolute half assed, low bugdet format on an unpopular network which mostly broadcasts ONLY news out of St George itself rather than national/world etc. all at random times of the day. It is so amateur of a station, it’s no wonder people would rather watch news out of SLC or Vegas. If NBC (being a legit, national system, would surely cover advertising due to their own ads combined with some local), had a St George affiliate, they would ensure quality news, weather, sports, advertising etc. on not only the immediate local area, but our region, state, nation and world as well. So the fact alone that a tiny town smaller than Cedar can support an NBC station…argument closed. It’s been fun, thanks for the debate 🙂

  • Peachesncream September 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Wow such a debate on real TV news here lol! I definetly have to agree that St George is plenty big enough for an NBC or the like station-even Cedar is for that matter. As I notice, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and some other surrounding states are similar in the fact that the one major city or population center of the state i.e. SLC, Denver, Phoenix, are all the TV news channel hubs for those states. For example Flagstaff, AZ or Grand Junction, CO (similar in the size of St George) also don’t have their own NBC stations. So maybe there’s more to this topic that needs further research…

  • Mike September 22, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Did you just say ‘duh’? I think that means I win by forfeit. Ha.

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