7 measures, 7 votes, 7 victories

by | Nov 7, 2013

There were 7 measures on the ballot:  2 initiatives, 5 tax advisory votes.
        Who decided the fate of these measures?  The people, not the politicians.
        The voters were asked to decide on 2 initiatives:
*  I-517, the “initiative on initiatives.” A remarkably interesting topic. The initiative process recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary so it was an opportune time to learn more about it, discuss it, and debate it. Voters were exposed to arguments for and against I-517’s proposed policies. TV/radio/newspaper stories, columns, editorials, and letters were written. Water-cooler and kitchen table debates were legion. Some of I-517’s policies received strong support (extending the time for signature collection, right to vote on qualified initiatives) while other policies received a lot of pushback (signature collection inside sports stadiums, for example). Voters ultimately decided against I-517’s particular combination of policies. But after 10 years of fighting against legislative proposals to restrict or eliminate the people’s initiative process, it was a welcome change to have a discussion over policies that would actually help it. It was a victory to discuss, debate, and vote on I-517.
*  I-522, the GMO labeling initiative. Also an interesting subject. Both sides had plenty of money to advocate its pros and cons. It’s hard to argue there was a dearth of attention paid to this initiative. Voters heard both sides and made a decision. The people ultimately voted no. But what a fascinating, interesting discussion we had! It was a victory to discuss, debate, and vote on I-522.
            On the 5 tax advisory votes, a bright spotlight was put on the 5 tax increases passed by this year’s Legislature. Numerous news stories were written about their $877 million cost. Politicians were asked about them. Voters learned how legislators voted on them. They spurred discussions and debates among friends and co-workers. They made people think. And when it came time to vote on these 5 tax increases, voters supported some of them and opposed others. That shows the people thought about each one. Maybe most importantly, the 2014 legislature knows the voters will learn about any future tax increases. It was a victory to discuss, debate, and vote on those 5 tax advisory votes.
            Over the past 16 years, we’ve learned that getting on the ballot is a huge victory. Because it allows the people, and not the politicians, to decide. It allows the people to participate more and learn more. We believe that an active, engaged electorate is critically important. It reminds elected officials that the people are watching. Government officials are much more likely to do the wrong thing if they don’t think the people are paying attention. Letting the voters decide a few issues each year is a healthy, positive aspect of our state’s governmental system.
            7 measures, 7 votes, 7 victories.
            The three of us will do our best to learn from this year’s experiences. We will continue to listen, learn, and persevere.
            We hope you agree with Teddy Roosevelt who said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
            Thank you all for your encouragement and support. We will continue to focus our efforts on protecting taxpayers.