Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Victoria residents need to fill polls in May
By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 13, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated March 12, 2013 at 10:13 p.m.
Only a few months ago, Americans took part in a major election. It was a culmination of almost a year of debates, backbiting, fundraisers, controversy and nationwide drama. Now, in another two months, Victorians will face another election, but this time the candidates will be much more familiar.
On May 11, Victorians will have the opportunity to vote for four City Council positions. Every race is contested, with the race for mayor including five candidates. Each race is important and depends on the voters of Victoria to determine the future of our hometown.
Historically, smaller elections, such as the upcoming City Council election, tend to have a much smaller voter turnout than the national elections for president of the United States. In the 2012 general election, Victoria County saw a 56.5 percent voter turnout, but in the May 12, 2012, city election, voter turnout was only 12.7 percent. This is a disappointing comparison. It is true, national elections tend to come with much more hype and media attention, but electing city leaders is just as important. The president may influence the overall direction and policies of our nation, but a member of the city council has the ability to influence our day-to-day lives on a much closer level.
The City Council plays a major role in the growth and development of Victoria. The council helps determine which streets will be repaired, what the tax rate will be, make appointments to important city positions and more. It is crucial that voters take part in elections and help to choose the best, most-qualified candidates to fill the City Council. A poorly qualified group of representatives could set the city's progress back several years.
Because so few people vote in city elections, the city also faces the possibility of having to hold runoffs or recounts, as was the case in the May 12 election between former councilwoman Denise Rangel and her then-challenger and current councilman Emett Alvarez. Alvarez won the election by three votes. In the upcoming election, two of the four races have three candidates, and the mayoral race has five: current Mayor Will Armstrong, Councilman Paul Polasek, Omar Rachid, Henry Perez and Richard Andrew Deases. With such a wide array of options, a runoff is almost certain, and we hope as many voters as possible will attend this election to help choose the next group of city leaders.
To help prepare voters for the election, the Victoria Advocate plans to compile profiles of the candidates and follow the races at our Election Central page. We will also schedule debates with the candidates over a live webcast, which will be recorded and posted on our website. We will also publish a list and map of voting precincts as election day approaches.
We hope all Victoria voters will take the time to investigate and educate themselves about the city council candidates. And above all, we hope voters will take the time to vote in this important election.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.