Let's take advantage of a second chanceThe Chamber’s leadership recently asked our 1,070 members how we should engage in the upcoming local elections. Our members clearly indicated the Chamber should not issue candidate endorsements.
By: David Ross, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
The Chamber’s leadership recently asked our 1,070 members how we should engage in the upcoming local elections. Our members clearly indicated the Chamber should not issue candidate endorsements. Instead, our members asked us to provide them credible and timely information about the local candidates and their positions on business-related issues.
In response, the Chamber implemented an ambitious, candidate-neutral education initiative designed to provide our members with the insight and information they need to cast informed votes.
In recent months, the Chamber provided our members timely and convenient opportunities to connect with the candidates and learn where they stand on local issues. In the spirit of participating in the discourse of democracy, we recently hosted two candidate forums on Aug. 2 and Sept. 7. We invited all twelve city council candidates involved in the primary election. Eleven of the twelve candidates participated in the forum. Additionally, we invited all seven of the school board candidates involved in the primary election. Six of the seven candidates participated in our forum.
We also produced and distributed 2,000 copies of our eight-page educational report “Vote 2011”. The report provided candidates’ responses to questions posed by leaders involved in the Chamber’s public policy initiative. We worked closely with the candidates to produce the report. We were delighted that all city council and school board candidates participated in the report.
I share this information with you to illustrate the Chamber’s full engagement in the local election process. I trust you can, therefore, appreciate our collective disappointment when we learned Duluth’s September 13 primary election generated the lowest voter turnout on record. Only 6,620 ballots were cast. This was 70 percent fewer votes than in Duluth’s 2007 primary election. Only 12 percent of our Shining City on the Hill’s registered voters took part in the recent primary.
Fortunately, we will soon have another chance to collectively do far better. Duluth’s general election is November 8, 2011. Every registered voter in Duluth has reason to vote in the general election, regardless of one’s school board district or city council district.
We can all have a vote in the Duluth School District’s At-Large race between Michael Miernicki and Ryan Stauber. Additionally, we can all vote in Duluth’s two At-Large City Council seats: the candidates are Emily Larson, Linda Krug, Tim Riley and Chad Smith. Finally, each of us can vote on two vitally important referendums. The Duluth School District will have three operating levy questions on the November 8 ballot. The City of Duluth will have a ballot question on a proposed ordinance creating a Parks Fund and authorizing a special levy dedicated to funding parks.
The aforementioned votes will impact our beloved community for years to come. The stakes are high. It will be a seminal moment. I encourage you to vote November 8. Let’s take advantage of a second chance.