Time will tell if voters’ choices hard to live with


Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005

Elections serve as a mirror in which a community can look at its core values and beliefs. The reflection is not always pretty, but its validity is hard to deny.

Tuesday’s boroughwide election was the culmination of a months-long campaign that saw candidates and supporters of propositions run overwhelmingly clean and fair campaigns. In contrast to some past elections, there was no mud-slinging to speak of, no personal attacks or name-calling, no blatant lies of libelous speeches. For this, those involved in the election should be commended.

Congratulations are in order for John Torgerson and John Williams, who survived the initial vote and will now face each other in a run-off election. Both these longtime public servants have run strong, clean campaigns and we’ll be lucky to have either one serving as mayor.

And the voters who took time out of their lives to get out and play a role in the civic process should likewise be given a pat on the back for deciding action is better than apathy, that participation trumps inaction and the democratic process is something that’s still worth being a part of.

To vote and decide in what direction our community should go is one of the most important rights we’re given as Americans.

Also important, however, is the freedom we’re given to disagree — not only prior to an election but once the votes are tallied, as well.

The backlash against taxes seen in the election was not unexpected. After all, Kenai Peninsula residents are notorious for their fiscally conservative nature, something that has served us well as local governments have traditionally been able to keep local taxes reasonable while still providing good education, responsible public safety and sound roads.

But we must take exception to how two propositions — numbers 4 and 5 — turned out, as we see what has happened as not necessarily a triumph for democracy, but a victory for special interests with narrow goals and objectives.

We take exception to the voters’ decision to go against the will of their elected representatives. Our representative democracy is based upon the idea that we elect public servants to do our will for us. Direct democracy, where the people vote on every issue that comes along, is impractical and burdensome.

The passage of these propositions flies directly in the face of those people we’ve entrusted with the power of making our decisions for us. As their constituents, we have the duty to tell them what we like and don’t like, and they have the duty to respect our wishes.

However, to second-guess our representatives, then pass an ordinance calling for a vote on every expenditure in excess of $1 million will likely hamstring our assembly members and create a more muddled system of government.

Those who voted for these propositions should ask themselves if they will be in support of funding special elections whenever big-ticket appropriations are needed. Isn’t this an unnecessary expenditure?

As for the sales tax measure, don’t be surprised if the assembly listens to the voters and begins making cuts. Those who supported the tax roll-back should not gripe when their road isn’t plowed in a timely manner this winter, or when funding for ice hockey is cut.

And don’t be surprised if property taxes or assessments suddenly get kicked up a notch.

We’ll live with the results of the election; we’ve got no choice. Neither, however, do those who are responsible for the outcome.

Be careful what you wish for — sometimes you get it.

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