Nov 6, 2010

Little Canada Elections

I worked for CTV on the 2010 Election Results program and was amazed to see that all 3 incumbent candidates for Little Canada's city offices ran unopposed: The results were:


Number of Precincts
Precincts Reporting
3   100.0 %
Total Votes

2707 97.23%
Write-in Votes
77 2.77%


Number of Precincts
Precincts Reporting
3  100.0 %
Total Votes

2317 51.82%
2079 46.50%
Write-in Votes
75 1.68%

I was impressed to see that about 75 city residents had the gumption to write-in their votes. That's a pretty insignificant (~1%) percentage of about 4,400 votes. However, I have always believed that "Sturgeon's Law" is optimistic, so I think this was a decent turnout of folks with initiative. 

Apparently, Little Canada residents are either satisfied with city government (something my wife's 2006 city council campaign found to be unlikely) or incredibly disconnected from city government (more in line with the conversations she had with residents in 2006). Little Canada wasn't alone in municipal uncontested elections, but being in the company of other apathetic 'burbs isn't exactly a recommendation.

Apathy is tightly linked to anger and many voters were more emotionally-driven in the 2010 election than motivated by rational analysis or an understanding of the nation's pressing issues. We were passionate about some pretty strange things in this election and I've never put much faith in passion; anywhere outside of art or sports. It's only interesting there for entertainment purposes.

Our local state representative, Bev Scalze did pretty well in her race:
Number of Precincts           13
Precincts Reporting           13 100.0 %
Total Votes                15888
KEN RUBENZER                6849 43.11%
BEV SCALZE                  9022 56.78%
Write-in Votes                17  0.11%

Incumbent State Senatory John Marty won his race, too:

Number of Precincts           22
Precincts Reporting           22  100.0 %
Total Votes                30058
TIM JOHNSON                13131   43.69%
JOHN MARTY                 16896   56.21%
Write-in Votes                31    0.10%

Of those two battles, I'm please that Bev won as she has been consistently involved and helpful in our fight to restore Savage Lake. Senator Marty has been consistently missing in action which put me in a neutral position for his election campaign. Politically, I'm an independent voter, so candidates who display no interest in my areas of concern are pretty much off of my radar.

We have a new county sheriff, Matt Bostrom. Since I have not been able to figure out why the 2009 city budget saw a 20% increase in "Public Safety: Police" expenses, when all other expenses held pretty close to previous years, I'm hoping that Sheriff Bostrom will be more fiscally responsible than Mr. Fletcher. Fletcher had a reputation for cost over-runs in his department. It's hard to imagine a 20% ($197,670) one-year increase (from $926k to $1.124M, page 14 of the city's General Fund Summary) being justified for anything in a city as small as ours.

(Hopefully, we're not paying for the increased "enforcement" of the primary seat-belt law that has resulted in several dangerous situations on Little Canada road over the last year. That has to have been a money-maker for the county, even if it's another pointless example of Big Mommy government.)

In all, I think the 2010 election was disappointing. If we are unable to attract more than 3 Little Canada residents to run for 3 city offices in times as economically and socially critical as these, our community is in sad shape. I put some of the blame on an election system that is about as far from transparent as possible. Finding out who is running for what, before the election filing dates is, as best I can tell, impossible without inside connections. A county website posts the candidates, but it didn't come on line until several weeks after the filing deadline: The application system is pretty simple and inexpensive, but campaign finance laws are overly-complicated and close to incomprehensible, which keeps most of us from wanting to dip a toe into local politics. We all know that is the intent of our current system and there doesn't seem to be a way out of this undemocratic mess.The cure would be for more citizens to become involved, but that isn't the current trend in the US.