At a time when the state of California is experiencing financial failure, and cities and counties have ongoing deficits and are struggling to maintain the services that our citizens deserve, we now find ourselves involved in yet another “special election” process ... and for what?
The governor blames the Legislature, the Legislature blames the governor and the blame game continues. It is no wonder there is no confidence in our state government, and the perception of dysfunction appears to be a reality.
Meanwhile, we as your local elected representatives strive to not only balance a budget but to maintain an adequate level of services. With the pending special elections our ability to decrease our county deficit is only diminished by the need to hold yet another election. And again … for what?
I’m not sure if everyone understands the time, energy and costs related to pulling together an election. Here is how it will play out and, in my opinion, how it will affect you and me.
First, we have a primary election in June and a general election in November. Now we are faced with an additional election in June and another in August. The County Clerk Recorder’s office, which in my opinion is the most efficient and well-run office in the county, will now have to scramble to pull together additional elections that will take away from the day-to-day activities of that office. There is a considerable amount of time necessary to prepare for these elections, not to mention the enormous cost relative to this effort. We will spend close to $1 million dollars to pull this off. And when will the state pay us back? We have yet to be reimbursed $376,000 for the special election that was held in 2009, so I have no great expectations that we will be paid back anytime soon for these special elections in 2010.
How will this affect us as a county? Just ask yourself, could $1 million dollars be better spent?
We continue to see the results of low voter turnout. With the increased number of elections, it is no wonder there is voter fatigue. When we try to promote the citizens’ right to vote for better governance and then increase the number of special elections, we further depress the desire for our citizens to go to the ballot box.
Based on Elections Code Sec. 10703, the governor could have set the election for Nov. 2 by delaying issuance of his proclamation and exercising his option to choose Nov. 2. However, the governor chose not to do this.
Our new lieutenant governor doesn’t want to second guess the governor, and potential candidates involved in the special election seem to be more than willing to pursue that course as well. We keep looking to Sacramento to show some fiscal restraint and think more about the folks affected by their actions. We keep looking to Sacramento to show leadership.
We keep looking to Sacramento. Perhaps it’s time we quit looking north and instead right the ship ourselves. If there is a need to pass more bills and legislation (which we have enough of), perhaps it’s time to look at election reform.
Frank R. Mecham is chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.