The Coastal Star

Editor's Note: Why municipal elections can have huge impact

Three votes is all it takes to change the course of history in most of our coastal towns. Think about it: Riverwalk Plaza in Boynton Beach, iPic and Atlantic Crossing in Delray Beach, the termination of a police chief in Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes’ switch from Ocean Ridge to Boynton Beach police service. These all happened on a 3-2 vote.
    I’m thinking a lot about this vote count as we gear up for the March 14 municipal elections. With the exception of Manalapan, which has seven commissioners, it takes only three votes to change (or protect) our way of life on the island.
    Granted, cities like Boca Raton seem to be keen on unanimous votes and towns like Gulf Stream and Highland Beach rarely split their votes. Still, all it takes is one election to change things. And not just on the national stage. One election can force extremely local changes as well.
    Keep this in mind as you attend candidate forums and talk with your neighbors this month. What issues are at the heart of why you love where you live? Maybe it’s the beach and maintaining our shoreline. Maybe it’s assuring levels of emergency service to the island.
    Maybe it’s making sure house sizes don’t destroy the ambiance of our neighborhoods. Or maybe it’s overdevelopment or traffic or sober homes in residential neighborhoods. All of these things — and more — will be on the ballot March 14.
    How candidates stand on these issues matters far more than which clubs they belong to or with whom they are friends or how they look. It’s not a popularity contest. We are voting for people who will represent our concerns.
    Ask hard questions. Educate yourself on the impact of zoning issues and comprehensive plans and changes to town charters. These are at the heart of preserving, creating or destroying the way we want to live along the coast.
And keep in mind that all it takes is a 3-2 vote.

— Mary Kate Leming, Editor

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