Today I am speaking on the City Elections to the Women Professionals in Government. While preparing my remarks, I realized that few people seem to be interested in this election cycle.
If you are a true political junkie, there is actually plenty to find interesting about this cycle. There are two brand new Council seats – Districts J and K have been added and will increase the number of Council Members from 14 to 16. Also, a number of the districts have been reshaped and provide interesting opportunities for discussion.
There are 3 open seats – meaning the current Council Member is prevented from seeking re-election due to term limits – At-Large 2, District B and District C.
This means that regardless of what happens in incumbent races, a minimum of 5 new Council Members will be at the table next January – nearly 1/3 of the governing body.
As well, the Mayor and other incumbents have opponents. In the Mayor’s case, her opponents are not well-funded while she has more than $2 million in the bank. This will allow her to pitch her message to the voters.
Other incumbent Council Members have opponents – some serious and others not so much. My definition of serious is when a candidate has enough name recognition or money in the bank to run an effective campaign. However, let me remind you that on this 20th anniversary of the adoption of term limits, incumbents are rarely defeated.
What disturbs me most is the complete lack of interest I’m seeing and hearing from my friends, co-workers, students and people I encounter daily. Everyone wants to complain about the water main breaks and the streets buckling as well as the lack of recycling in their neighborhood or crime, etc. Yet, when I point out that this is an election year and they should get involved with a candidate, they look at me like I’m from another planet.
In the 2009 city elections, with an open Mayoral race and combined candidates spending more than $10 million, voter turnout reached almost 13%. Seriously. Mayor Parker was elected with little more than 100,000 votes cast.
Are you going to let 5 new people take to the Council table to make decisions on the future of this city without casting your vote?
One of my favorite quotes is from Grover Cleveland, “The ship of democracy will ultimately sink by the mutiny of those on board.”
Come on Houston, pay attention!!!!!