Suppose they held an election and no one came. That is exactly what will happen on March 9 when 29 municipalities elect mayors and governing bodies in this year’s round of nonpartisan municipal elections.
Of the 75 elected positions to be filled only 23 are contested. In 13 communities the polls will be closed, as no challenges were filed for any of the open spots.
While this may save some money, what does it say about our democracy? Is everyone perfectly satisfied with the mostly unchallenged incumbents? Does no one care to serve in local government because they think it doesn’t matter?
Combined with low voter turnout for local races, the lack of political contests is a telling commentary on the state of public understanding of our system of government. Sometimes the decisions on the local level have a more profound effect on the quality of our daily lives than those of the Tallahassee or Washington crowd. It is at the local level that we can influence such questions as these: Should we build a library in town or hire more police officers? What is the cost of garbage collection? Do our zoning laws protect the community from overdevelopment?
Who makes these decisions where you live?
If you live in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Manalapan, Ocean Ridge or South Palm Beach, be sure to vote on March 9.
Be sure to learn who is running so that you can make an informed choice. Many community Web sites have lists of candidates or sample ballots.
Additionally, beyond this month’s election, try attending your local town commission meeting as an observer. You will be amazed at what you will learn about your community in only one meeting!
Better yet, volunteer to sit on a town commission committee. In addition to the donation of your time and civic engagement, your participation and knowledge gained could make the next best candidate on the next municipal election ballot!
Pamela Goodman is on the board of the directors for the League of Women Voters of Florida and Corinne Miller is a member of the League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County.