POMPANO BEACH VOTE: You Have An Important Decision To Make
by Jeff Levine, Pompano! Magazine Editor-at-large; Pompano News/Opinion Columnist
IMPORTANT POMPANO BEACH VOTE: On March 17th, Pompano Beach residents will get to vote on whether or not to make City Commissioner terms four years, to stagger the terms and to move those elections to March instead of November. (They had been in March until just recently).
It’s easy to not bother voting on procedural amendments like this but it really doesn’t take much time to learn about them and to cast your vote on March 17th (or sooner if you have a mail-in ballot). And, these issues can be more important than you think.
Click here to find the official wording of the amendments and the city’s perspective on the Pompano Beach Election.
Here are some additional thoughts (from me) on what these amendments really mean to us.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT #1: CHANGE MUNICIPAL ELECTION DATES, EXTEND CURRENT TERMS
This amendment asks us to move City Commission and other municipal elections from November to March.
On the pro side, moving the election to March will allow greater focus on local issues since it wouldn’t compete against presidential or other major elections.
On the con side, less people tend to vote in March elections.
In a rapidly changing city, we want as many people to vote as possible. We also don’t want to allow power brokers and other influencers to exert disproportionate control over city politics. The less votes cast, generally the more likely that the people who vote are the ones aligned to the power brokers.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT #2: EXPAND DISTRICT COMMISSIONER TERMS OF OFFICE
This amendment would extend the City Commission terms from two years to four years.
On the pro side, it would allow consistency in the running of the city government instead of having commissioners consistently running for re-election with the resulting frequent turn-over and upheaval. It would also cost the city less as elections would be held half as frequently. Commissioners would theoretically have a more long term focus and would be more likely to see projects through from initial vote to completion.
On the con side, if you want to get someone out of office it will take up to four years to do so instead of the current two. Elected officials may feel less obliged to answer to their constituents needs if they don’t have to worry about an upcoming election.
I see the benefits of the change and also of keeping things as they are (every two years). I think I will be voting NO, keeping terms at two years simply because in such a rapidly evolving city, four years seems like a long time to me.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT #3: STAGGER TERMS
You’d vote for odd numbered district commissioners in odd years and even numbered district commissioners in even years (I think).
PRO: Since the entire City Commission wouldn’t be up for election at once, it would prevent the city from having all “rookie” commissioners elected at the same time and would allow for more consistency and experience while also mixing in new people and new ideas more frequently.
CON: Sounds confusing. For any given Pompano Beach election, only half the city would be voting at the same time. This would also likely decrease overall awareness of the election and further reduce turn-out. Not enough people even know when city elections are now. Imagine if those election times were different for half of your neighbors (especially if the election was moved to March).
Again, I see both sides on this one. Again, I will likely be voting against it. I see a possibility for creating confusion and reducing turn-out. To me, that outweighs the potential benefits.
So, we’ve got three amendments all with the potential to change our election process and election turn-out levels. I’ve told you how I’m voting. (My personal preferences, not necessarily the official stance of Pompano! Magazine). I see the pros and cons of each. I hope you’ll use this information to make an educated decision. On two of the three, I don’t even have a strong opinion. (My wife and co-workers will tell you that is most unusual). I would urge you to go to the polls on March 17th to vote against future March elections. (Yes, I get the irony). Most important is that you vote – regardless of how you vote.
One more suggestion: make sure to vote before heading to any St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Drinking and Voting don’t mix. (Or do they?)