Monday, February 05, 2007

Don't Vote Tuesday

I always wonder why mediatypes (especially on television) urge people to get out and vote in elections. I feel wary about doing that. It's not that I don't think voting is important. This politics business is kind of a passion for me. I just think that if you're not informed, you probably shouldn't vote. And I also think not voting in an election can make as big of a statement as casting a ballot. You certainly shouldn't have to vote. It's the candidates job to get you to vote. I just get a bit queasy when the media instructs people to "do their duty." We should stick to telling people what an election is about, and stop telling them they need to vote.

Either way, there are some elections tomorrow. In Springfield, 3 candidates are vying to win 2 slots for an open city council seat. Manufacturer Dan Chiles, computer programmer Randel Hanes and Missouri State University swim coach Jack Steck are running for the citywide open council seat D.

I got to catch up with the three of them. Here are some mini-bios of the candidates. It's a a shorthand cheat-sheet, in case you're one of those proud patriots who will take 3 and half minutes of your time and fill out a ballot Tuesday.

Dan Chiles
Why he's running: The environment. "We don't have to worry about rising oceans, but we need to think about our obligations to the world." Energy. "We have the possibility of fuel shortages here in Springfield because we don't have oil wells here. Good government. "I want to take care of smaller things, like getting the potholes filled and keeping a good water supply."
Why he won't attack his opponents: "They're nice guys!"
How he thinks the city handled the ice storm: "I thought they did a remarkable job. I'm really proud of the work they did."
Sales tax renewal: YES
Who he's counting on Tuesday: "Hot coal voters. There's a few thousand people who would walk over hot coals to vote. They vote every single time no matter what."
Money Quote: "They may like me, they may not like me, but people here know me."

Randel Hanes
Why he's running: Friends have told him to throw his hat in again. "I want to sound off against repeated unanimous city council decisions."
A "No" vote he would've cast: Red light cameras. "The city spent over a million dollars on this. I just would've spent the money differently. We should've been upgrading our communications system, police vehicles before we even considered the idea of what I would've thought is more of a luxury."
What else council did wrong: Pit Bull ordinance. "Having the animal injected with a ID chip and forcing the owner to spayed or neuter the animals that are not show dogs are not good remedies."
Sales tax renewal: YES

Jack Steck
Website: Not that I could find
Why he's running: "I've got some issues with some of the things happening in the city. I'm disturbed with what's going on in the police department. Anytime you have police picketing in front of city hall, something is wrong."
What he knows about his opponents: "A little bit. I recognize the Chiles name."
His beef with the council: "A $1.7 million dollar embezzlement. The largest public embezzlement in the state of Missouri! The city council, and city manager, the buck has to stop with them."
How he thinks the city handled the ice storm: "They did a good job, but they were not prepared. I just don't think there was a plan in place. We need to learn and prepare."
How long he was without power: 9 days

Who Will Win?
Chiles has probably got the best name I.D. in town, and he may be the most organized. The News-Leader endorsed him, but look what that did for Doug Harpool and Jim Talent (No offense to FOB (friend of blog) Mr. Messenger:) Hanes has run before, so that could help. But as a former college swimmer, you can't rule out a swim coach. Steck (not STACK) probably has some name I.D. Could we see a Chiles-Steck face-off?


DJSharae said...

Fabulous post, Dave! Though there was only a short section done for each candidate, it was very infomative. I personally did not know anything about any of the candidates, but based on some of the responses made by the candidates, I now know who I will not vote for.

Brad Belote said...

Dave, you're being far too cynical, particularly with the headline.

Aren't you committing the same offense but in the opposite direction by telling me NOT vote?

In a utopia, yes, people would all be informed about issues and candidates before they cast votes.

But telling people they shouldn't vote because they aren't informed, is to a degree elitist.

I'm given that right and privilege by our constitutions (state & federal). I may exercise it as fitfully or carelessly as I wish. The imposition of additional arbitrary qualifications like "being informed" is not in the spirit of our country's best ideals. I'm a citizen, I'm 18, I have that right. An informed vote has no more value than an uninformed vote.

David Catanese said...


Don't take the headline too seriously. It was more a way to sensationally (gulp!) grab the reader's attention. Kind of like the AARP campaign "Don't Vote." Or really cool fire video at the top of a newscast.

I certainly wouldn't question anyone's right to vote. And you may have a point that I'm being too elitist in my argument.

But my main point is that I don't think it's the media's role to cheerlead people to the polls. I vote consistently, but if I don't know enough about an issue or a obscure race, I leave it blank. My point is that not voting is a statement in itself. It measures our interest in a race and the issues, if there is 3% turnout, a 26% turnout or a 77% turnout. And that's ok.

And yes you can exercise your vote carelessly. I don't question that right. I would just argue that a "careless" vote is probably bad for democracy. But most people that would have the inclination to cast a "careless" vote probably wouldn't take the time to do so. in the first place.

Jacke M. said...

Thank you. Based upon what seems to be important to each of these candidates and the focus of their concerns I know who I will vote for today and feel I CAN make an informed vote. In those very brief summaries you provided a lot of insight.

I don't think you are being elitist at all, David. The right to vote should carry with it PERSONAL responsibility and have more tied to it than simply a fly in the face statement of "I'm ignorant, uninformed and can make no distinction between candidates...but what the hooey! I vote cuz I can!" The right to vote should come with a sense of responsibility to cast an EDUCATED vote. And no, before someone misunderstands, I'm not suggesting that anyone be prohibited from voting just because they're ignorant of the candidates and issues...what they should be is EMBARRASSED enough about their ignorance to educate themselves before voting, now THAT'S a right worth preserving!