By Henry Twombly, Sedona Resident
(March 20, 2014)
By now you have probably heard that the new Sedona Community Plan has passed. The votes of the ballots cast were 1530 Yes (61.59%) and 954 No (38.41%). The Council, the Chamber, the Sedona Red Rock News (SRRN), and the other powers that be would like you to think that 61.59% of our citizenship supports the plan, thus giving them some sort of mandate. But the sad truth is that only 38.3% of Sedona’s registered voters cast ballots (2484 out of 6495)…which means less than 25% of the residents support the Plan. Even sadder still is that another 3,000 residents aren’t even registered to vote. [ This appromixation is a result of subtracting the number of ineligible voters/children (roughly 1,500) from the total number of residents (nearly 11,000).]
You may wonder about the many reasons why politics on all levels of government is so corrupt and prejudiced in favor of vested interests. A major reason is voter apathy. People are not taking responsibility for staying informed about the issues and participating in the democratic process. It is a privilege and right to vote that not everyone around the world enjoys; yet we in the United States take it for granted to the point where we don’t even exercise that right. Yes, it’s hard enough working all day to make ends meet; and you’re tired at night and don’t want to follow the news or really study the issues. And it’s even harder when corporations own the media and slant/spin the news to favor their bias. Locally we have a great example in the SRRN, which doesn’t publish opinions and perspectives that contradict its positions and agenda. But an effort should be made to be informed and see the bigger picture, so wise choices can be decided to promote the greater good.
To give up completely on the democratic process – however perverted and compromised it may be – is to give way to tyrants. For instance the Council will now interpret this vote as a mandate to go forward with the Community Plan. Even though the Plan proposal said it was “not a capital improvement plan…zoning ordinance…commitment for expenditure of public funds,” that’s exactly what is has now become. A blueprint and a game plan for compact, multi-story development, pork-barrel construction, the transformation of residential neighborhoods into mixed commerical hubs for “walkability.” Because only 38% of us residents voted, the Council will now think most of us don’t care what they do…which is like releasing a bull in a china shop. Personally I feel that if you don’t vote, then you forfeit your right to bitch and moan about the affairs of city, state, country and the world in general, because you are not taking responsibility for and participating in what is being created.
But maybe voter turnout will increase when the Council wants you to vote on higher taxes either through general obligation bonds, special district taxes, and/or a city-wide property tax to finance this Community Plan. Maybe more people will finally vote because these issues will directly affect their pocketbooks. Until non-voters start following the issues and become responsible for the direction of the city, they will not realize that every vote (directly or indirectly) affects their pocketbooks, let alone the character of the city. So will these non-voters cast ballots in the Council elections this fall and/or the Home Rule election in 2016? This all remains to be seen; but what remains to be true is that we will reap what we sow.