I'd like to share some wisdom that a former co-worker shared with me: vote liberally at the local level and get more conservative as the elected official moves farther from you. Over the years I've come to recognize the logic in this wisdom.
Our locally elected officials will be deciding matters that affect our day to day lives-- school policy, city development, property taxes....the list goes on. Our national leaders attempt to make sweeping decisions they feel are in the best interest for the entire country. When national leaders try to get involved at the local level things tend to get messy (case in point: No Child Left Behind). Local matters are best left to local leaders, with few exceptions.
Next Tuesday our city will be electing a mayor, aldermen, and school board members. The nature of our local government makes the mayor a huge player in education, he even sits on the school board. Not only that, but our school budget is a part of the city budget, making the mayor even more influential.
Did you know that our current mayor has no children? He has never been a parent within the school system nor has he worked in education. For a city whose mayor is so heavily involved in the educational system, I find this ridiculous. If you ever listen to him talk about education he frequently references his time in the public school system. He graduated high school in the late 60's. They didn't even have computers in classrooms at that time. He has no personal frame of reference for IEPs, No Child Left Behind, overcrowded classrooms or cyber-bullying. And, as we know, he is fond of making mountains out of mole hills.
How, you might be asking yourself, did he get elected? Unfortunately, there are many people who vote solely on party affiliation. Our current mayor is a Republican, and I strongly feel that is the only way he was elected and the only thing he is relying on to be elected again. Please understand this: I am a registered Republican, but will not be voting for Ted Gatsas, nor did I last time. I prefer to align my vote with my hopes and convictions rather than the bubble next to the word "Republican".
I'm asking you to do the same. Take a minute to examine your ideas for the needs in our city. Do we need a new city plaza, or do we need smaller classroom sizes? Do we need to shut down fire stations in the name of the budget or do we need someone who is willing to work on the budget in order to maintain city services? Do you think that kids today are disrespectful? Do you really think continually shrinking educational resources is going to help the situation?
Please, I beg of you, be an informed voter instead of a box checker.