Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Politics Is Local

From Wikipedia: 
Politics (from Greek: politikos, meaning "of, for, or relating to citizens") is the science of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.
We have a primary ballot dropping this weekend. On it are two things: a vote for County Clerk and a vote for a levy to fund a new Emergency Services District. The County Clerk vote is to fill a one year unexpired term, between two Republicans. All I really need to find out about that one is which is the Tea Party candidate and which is the normal garden variety Republican. Clear choice. Maybe.

The EMS District would combine the ambulance services of our two county hospital districts, saving money on administration and funding the service so that the two hospitals don't continue bleeding red ink. It will replace a current levy on our side of the county with a lower one, so it should be a no brainer for Hospital District 2. For folks in Hospital District 1, it will be a new levy. But their hospital cannot continue to absorb the costs of their ambulance. They have already reduced services to stay afloat. But it is also in a very red part of the county, where taxes are a bad word. Even if your life depends on getting you to the hospital or stabilizing you after an injury, heart attack or stroke. This levy means $30 a YEAR on property valued at $100,000. For us, it means about $80 a year. Money well spent, I'd say. It's 40% less than we are paying for our library levy, and the library can't try to save my life in an emergency!

The levy is new, so it faces hurdles. Such as, 60 percent of the voters in Nov 2012 election must turn in their ballots. Some 10,000 plus people voted in that presidential election out of the 12,000 plus voters registered. Which means we need  6,000 plus people to vote. Of those, we need 40% to vote YES!, some 2,500 people.

There is a group of people from both sides of the county who have formed YES! EMS! There's a Facebook page.There are signs. There are buttons. There are flyers. I sat with a table at our town's July 4th festivities, with a friend from Goldendale for part of the time, educating people on the issue and urging them to vote and to tell their friends, families and neighbors to vote. Some people had no idea what it was. Some knew and just wanted a sign, or to check when the ballots were coming. I even got two people to register to vote. The effort has been totally nonpartisan. Everyone is working together. But we're running out of time to educate and engage people face to face.

I was thinking it would be a great idea to bring information and buttons to the weekly farmer's market here in town. They had a fire district education booth. And a hospital sponsored kid's area. I had materials left from the 4th. So since we have a couple of weeks in a last push, I planned to spend my Tuesday afternoons hanging out at the market. Good thing Lloyd suggested that contact the organizer to be sure it was okay. Shouldn't be a problem. It's a local community nonpartisan issue. Am I right?

Well, no. Dang, I'd better quit thinking!!! Turns out they don't want ANY political activity at the market. While I understand people's aversion to 'politics', politics is how we elect our leaders, make our rules, and make decisions about public policy. Politics isn't required to be the ugly thing that goes on in the Other Washington. In its purest form, to me, it's about taking care of our community and its people. To completely eliminate 'politics' from our daily lives is to invite Idiocracy.

People running for office generally hit the summer fairs and festivals to be where the people are, to meet people, shake hands, talk about what concerns them. Putting a personal connection into our one step removed lives. Would that be verboten? I doubt if our representative or one of our congresswomen or our governor showed up, they'd be turned away for being politicians.

I get that sometimes the outside funded efforts (like the anti coal effort that is busy here in the Gorge) can sometimes turn people off. I personally don't see educating people on issues is a bad, as long as people get comprehensive information, not just the emotional pitches. We SHOULD be thinking about these things. But this EMS effort is grass roots LOCAL politics. Your friends and neighbors who want to spread the word about something important to the community. And advising people to vote no matter what their view. How is this a bad thing????

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