We are always told why is voting is so important. This year on November 8th there will be elections for the House, Senate and of course the President. But, I want to tell you why voting for your local officials is of critical importance, even more so than the “headline” elections.
I worked the polls for many years and too often watched citizens come in and only vote the top lines of the ballot and ignore the local contests. In these contests you have the ability to: Decide the direction of local laws; Have a say in how your city is run; And earn the right to complain when things don’t go as you like.
Yes, it is important having competent people elected to the Presidency, the Senate and the House. But think for a moment. You might never see the Commander in Chief or a Senator in the flesh in your lifetime, never mind having the chance to talk with them. You might see your Representative every couple of years or when he or she comes around to campaign.
Keep in mind that you might run into a City Commissioner when shopping, dining, getting your car fixed or at some other local business. You can come down to a City Commission meeting twice a month and have a chance to talk directly to them. Just try showing up at the White House to sit down and chat with the President.
How often do we deal with the different layers of government? For most of us, our only direct contact with the federal government is once a year when we do our income taxes. For the state of Florida, it might be close to the same. But you deal with your local government pretty much every day. You drive on city streets. The city picks up your garbage. And, hopefully you won’t need them frequently, but the city provides police, fire and emergency services. You have the chance to meet the local candidates and decide who you think would best represent the City and your interests.
"Local elections are truly where the rubber meets the road." - Anthony Caggiano
I might be stating the obvious, but like how fish don’t notice water because it is all around them, you might not realize how much the local government affects your life every single day.
What most Margate residents don’t realize is that Margate’s budget for 2015-2016 exceeds $55,000,000! A $55 million dollar plus budget isn’t pocket change. I for one have learned some hard lessons during the Great Recession and am ‘disappointed’, to put it mildly, when I see the city not following, in my opinion, prudent financial accounting practices or throwing our money down a sink hole. The links below address how some of OUR money is being spent and why I’m not happy.
Five reasons out of a long list why local elections are more important than you think:
1) Public Safety
The Margate police, in most cases, are the best trained and organized. We have a nationally recognized police force, for good reasons. Is it perfect? No system is perfect and Margate’s police force is always working to be better and more responsive to the needs of the citizens. Commission oversight is critical for demanding and getting proper compliance and the best performance.
The Margate fire department is internationally recognized and has a Class 1 Fire Protection rating. A Class 1 rating allows businesses in the city to qualify for lower insurance premiums. This should constantly be touted and that ranking preserved.
Garbage pickup, most people don’t think about garbage pickup as a public safety issue until a vermin infestation and the danger to public health.
Maintaining the quality of equipment necessary for the Facilities Department to achieve their necessary daily duties while making sure it’s prepared to meet emergency calls.
Unless you have paid off your mortgage, you may forget that you pay property taxes. Usually people with mortgages pay their property taxes through escrow. But, one way or another, property taxes still get paid. Business owners, homeowners (especially single family homeowners) all pay property taxes to Margate. It’s critical that having someone who looks at your tax dollars and understands that they are a scarce commodity that can’t be constantly mined for more. Understanding that tax dollars spent are an investment in our employee’s ability to do their jobs correctly and safely, maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure and furthering the vision of economic growth that entices families and quality businesses to migrate to Margate
When electing a City Commissioner the citizenry must expect that the person can communicate about: What is going on in town; Why they voted certain ways; Know how to direct constituents to the right departments to get questions answered and holding the staff and other Commissioners responsible for their actions.
5) Quality of Life
These are just a few of the many things City Commissioners decide on: New codes and code changes; The price of the water you drink and use to water your lawn; Parking, busing, a downtown development plan and will the carnival be allowed to come to town. Commissioners need to be able to make these decisions while keeping a focus on their commitment to an equitable delivery of essential public services to the most vulnerable in our community. Margate Commissioners have the job of maintaining the quality of our best departments while demanding improvements in those performing less than their best. What has each candidate said about City accountability?
In a nutshell it comes down to this, do you want to have a say in how Margate is run or are you going to sit back and let others make the decision for you? There are approximately 32,300 registered voters in Margate. In the August 2014 City Commission election, less than 10% of eligible voters participated and the winner won by 17 votes and in the November 2014 election less than 36% of the eligible voters turned out and the incumbent won by 157 votes (1.66%). Yes, your vote does count. Don’t sit home and willingly give up your voice to affect your community. Make a statement. VOTE!
Early voting (Oct. 24th - Nov. 6th) M-F 7am - 7pm
Voting by mail (last day for the November election to request a mailed ballot is Oct. 11, 2016) Free Postage
Election Day (November 8th) 7am – 7pm
The Supervisor of Elections has made voting a breeze with all these options, so you really don’t have an excuse not to vote. You could even be out of the country and still be counted.
Margate’s motto is, “Together We Make It Great”.
"Together" - That means all of you.
- Seat 1 City Commission Candidate Anthony Caggiano*