Last March, Ashland voters resoundingly rejected recall initiatives to remove three elected volunteer parks and recreation commissioners. Approximately 30 citizens upset with management decisions involving the Ashland Senior Center solicited signatures from hundreds of registered voters, often misleading residents in their quest to deploy the nuclear option of local government-change tools: the highly divisive recall election.
Fortunately, this nasty brand of politics was rejected by a whopping 69 percent margin with fewer “yes” votes cast than the number of signatures gathered to trigger the recall in the first place. The effort failed miserably, and the transition to a new and more responsive era for older-adult programs and services provided by the city of Ashland continues.
The purpose of this letter is not to recount one of the darkest moments in Ashland’s history, nor is it to point out the waste of $24,581 of taxpayer resources for a special election when a general election was only seven months away.
Instead, the latest and worst fact about the failed recall effort is none of the chief petitioners and their signature gatherers stepped up to run for any of the three Parks and Recreation Commission positions up for election this November. None!
Criticizing the imperfections of municipal government is easy, but stepping forward to run for election is apparently too daunting for those demanding change only a few weeks ago.
The most effective way to influence public policy is to become a policy maker. The pro-recall folks squandered their chance to champion their cause and whatever else they stand for in a proactive manner, in the traditional elective forum.
Rich Rosenthal is an Ashland city councilor and a former parks and recreation commissioner.