Charter measures dead on arrival

Charter measures dead on arrival

We saw a lot of "singing to the choir" and "too little, too late" campaigning in the last election.The library levy campaign had a $100,000 war chest and an army of volunteers. But from the start this looked like a Kamikaze campaign determined to go down in flames fighting. The essential question that was not answered was why would people who voted "no" in November change their minds six months later?

The campaign focused instead on the outstanding services and utilization of the libraries. That was singing to the choir for levy supporters. But levy opponents were not against libraries. They were against more taxes for a short-term fix. The outcome was the same 60% no-vote as in November. Let's do try again with a plan that includes moderate user fees and reduced costs. Maybe half the branches can be converted to volunteer operated Internet reading rooms.

The Ashland Charter amendments were DAO (dead on arrival), not because there was opposition, but because there was no organized support. Were they thinking the voters would just rubber stamp the conclusions of a committee?

In the final week before Election Day we had a great dialog on the letters page. But it was too little, too late. According to County records half the Ashland ballots were already in the mail a week before Election Day. That last week is too late to begin influencing undecided voters.

A thorough Charter revision would require community consensus-building long before the election. The City Council members who slapped these measures on to the ballot did a disservice to the amendment supporters. One City Council member was quoted as saying, "I just wanted to get it over with." That was a severe election drubbing.

Are we done now?

The Ashland school board race was a non-starter. A few letters trickled in during the last week. This was again too little, too late as half the ballots were already postmarked.

For the second time in six months it was demonstrated that merely being endorsed by the usual list of Progressives is not enough to win an election in Ashland. There were more voters who did not vote for school board than who did vote for either candidate. Deprived of an articulate campaign, the voters gave the winner second place to "none of the above."

Paul Copeland

Share This Story