I view my opportunity to vote with great enthusiasm. When I lived in Florissant, I volunteered to work two elections as an official, checking voters’ addresses off of large books, having them initial their names, answering their questions, even calmly dealing with some strange complaints a few voters would make. I remember being very glad for the presence of our wonderful head judge who gladly took on the “strange complaints voters” aside to talk with them and soothe their ruffled feathers.
April 8th is approaching and that day means I have an opportunity to vote in my new city of Rolla. There are quite a few items to vote on: pick a new mayor, pick school board members, and whether or not to vote on a sales tax increase for the Parks Department.
Three people are running for Mayor and I know nothing about any of them. I need to roll up my shirt sleeves and try to find out who they are and what they believe in politically and why should I vote for any one of them to be the new Mayor? What are their plans for Rolla? There will be a Mayoral Candidate Forum on March 20th and I plan on attending that so I can listen to each candidate speak and answer questions presented by the voters.
The school board had planned a question and answer session with the 4 candidates running for the board on March 3rd but that was postponed to yesterday, March 10th, due to bad weather on the 3rd. The local cable channe Channel 16, aired this session yesterday afternoon so I tuned in. Of the 4 candidates for the school board, 3 are incumbents, and the 4th candidate is running to be elected for the first time; only 3 seats are open for filling this election cycle. As I watched, I felt that one of the incumbent’s answered questions fairly and calmly. One of the incumbent’s is a former teacher and I think having someone who actually worked in a classroom would be a good skill set to have on any school board. One of the other incumbents kept criticizing the “newby” candidate’s points…it gave off an aura of “I have been on this school board and since you haven’t been, you really need not apply for a seat” and that struck me in a very negative way.
The most controversial issue facing Rolla voters is whether or not to approve a sales tax boost that will benefit the Parks Department. The sales tax proposal is very small, 1/4th of 1 percent tax. Why is this proposal, called Prop A, so controversial? It is due to the city’s Recreational Center, known as The Centre. It was built 8 years ago and at the time it was built, I believe from what research I’ve been able to do, that taxes were raised to fund the building of this Centre. Voters were told 8 years ago that by 2013, The Centre would be financially self-supportive. That hasn’t happened. The Centre has never ran in the black budget-wise. Some people in the community cannot afford to pay for the exercise classes offered, cannot pay for a membership at The Centre, so is it fair to once again tax the consumers who shop in Rolla to continue to pay for this building? Some have asked why not separate The Centre from the Parks Department as the parks do need upkeep and improvements and that a sales tax increase just for the parks would probably pass. The anti-Prop A forces have had signs popping up all around the city with The Centre featured prominently on their signs. The Centre is sort of like a YMCA for Rolla. There is a nice indoor pool with a section for lap swimmers, a regular swimming area for kids, and a low-entry area for little kids. Swimming lessons are offered throughout the year. There is an indoor track for runners and walkers. Weight-lifting , treadmills, stationary bikes, etc. Gyms for basketball and volleyball. Fitness classes are offered and one can even sign up for personal trainers. On Tuesday afternoons during the school year, PE classes are offered to the home schooled children in the area. Afterschool activities are offered for school kids too old for daycare yet not old enough to stay at home alone until parents are home from work. I do appreciate The Centre and what it is trying to provide for the community, and our family has participated in some of these offered classes. On Prop A, our house is a divided one. I will probably vote for the Parks Department, but husband is anti-taxes no matter how small the proposed increase, so our votes will probably cancel each other’s out on this issue.
This post was just a glimpse into voting, and issues my community will be deciding upon in April. I encourage my fellow citizens in Rolla, to be sure you are registered and to vote. It is a right of all Americans, 18 and older, to make their voices heard. Don’t ignore your civic duty!