by Joe Courter
Voting matters. Contrary to all the cynicism and the belittling, it does matter, especially in local elections. Working for candidates and helping in campaigns multiplies your vote. And frankly, party affiliation matters, too. In all my time voting, based on my left-of-center orientation (prioritizing education, healthcare, the environment, peace and justice, etc.), I have rarely seen where a Republican advanced my interests. But I must admit that thanks to all the social pressures of the times, Richard Nixon did some quite progressive things, and in hindsight, and compared to the current crop of Republican, looks in some ways downright progressive. I must also say Obama, and before him Clinton, got away with some horrible policy changes for which they got a free ride from the left. Our bad, but so it goes. It is up to citizens to hold our representatives accountable.
But local races are where your vote counts most. We feel very strongly about the two county commission races and support Harvey Ward in District 2 and Ken Cornell in District 4. Ward is attempting to unseat Lee Pinkoson, a conservative semi democrat who had no trouble voting with Republicans when the opportunity arose. This race will basically be over with the primary; there is a minor candidate on the November ballot and since the Republicans did not enter a candidate (I think they thought they had one in Pinkoson), they fell victims to the electoral rules.
The Republicans do have a candidate in the District 4 race, John Martin, and he will be in waiting for the winner of the primary between Ken Cornell and Kevin Thorpe. Both good Democrats, but the Plum Creek mega-development is the defining issue here, and we strongly feel that changing the Comprehensive Plan and letting this huge virtual city be built on environmentally sensitive land east of Gainesville is a terrible idea being sold to us by the largest landowner in Florida, a timber company. Plum Creek (nice name, huh, who could be against plums and creeks) has had a very professional public relations campaign going for years promising Eastside jobs and spreading money around community groups, but within years they and their promises will be gone. The County Commission is where the Comp Plan would have to change. Cornell won’t, and Thorpe would. We strongly support Cornell.
For School Board District 3, we say retain Gunnar Paulson. For School Board District 4, we endorse Rob Hyatt, a longtime teacher who would be a great compliment to the new forward thinking majority on the Board.
There is a contested judge race we feel strongly about. In County Judge District 4, we support Jose Moreno over the extremely well funded Susanne Wilson Bullard.
For Governor, we must get rid of Rick Scott, and somehow Charlie Crist has become the defacto Democratic nominee. But we still do get to vote in the primary for others, and Nan Rich has been waging a valiant but ignored campaign. We say vote for Nan Rich, if only to send a message to the party establishment.
Other races will come in November. Democrat Marihelen Wheeler will run for Congress after the dust settles between incumbent Ted Yoho and challenger Jake Rush in the Republican primary. Democrat Jon Uman will challenge Keith Perry as well in November. Both campaigns could use early support.
The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office has contact information for the candidate and will soon have sample ballots (www.votealachua.com). July 28 is the last day to register to vote in the August primary. If you are not registered as a Democrat but want to vote in the Democratic primary, you can also change you party affiliation by then. Good chance some Repubs may do that to vote for Pinkoson, no reason you independent and Greens shouldn’t, too.
Vote, it is the least you can do as a citizen.
Ward, Cornell, Paulson, Hyatt, Moreno; the ads you see in here are endorsements as well, use the contact information and help them out. D