So why do so many people not participate in local government?
Local government and the people we elect to sit on our City Council, have a lot of power over our lives and the quality of life in our community. They set the overall direction and vision of our community through long-term planning and then ensure that it is achieved. Local government is responsible for managing and delivering a range of quality services to the community such as public health, recreational facilities, local road maintenance and public libraries. They are the ones who make local laws that the rest of us must follow. These laws cover issues such as activities permitted on public land, whether potholes on your street get fixed, codes that govern what you can or cannot do on your own property, animal management laws, use of infrastructure and more. These people have a lot of power over us. In fact they directly impact our lives much more so than either state or federal governments.
Local government does not always listen to the people.
Although they are supposed to listen to the voices of the people, it is important to remember they do not have to. We don’t have to look back any further than October of 2017 to see an example of this in action in Garland. On October 17, 2017 six members (majority) of the City Council voted against the wishes of over 200 residents who had signed a petition asking them to hold off on demolishing the Armory at Central Park. The armory was demolished at taxpayer expense less than two weeks later. The signatures were placed on their desks prior to their vote. There can be no mistake they knew what they were doing but getting their way was more important to them than representing the voice of the people. Two of the members who ignored the expressed wishes of the voters are running unopposed for the upcoming May election—David Gibbons and Rich Aubin. Voter apathy doesn’t run much higher than this.
You have until February 16 at 5pm to file to run as a candidate for Garland City Council in our May election. Please step up to the plate.
It’s easier than you may think to step up and serve your community.
Filing information: https://www.garlandtx.gov/gov/cd/secretary/elections.asp
The City Council is made up of ordinary Garland residents. If you are not a felon and are duly registered to vote in the City of Garland you are eligible to apply. If you have a friend whom you think could serve our community—talk them into running.
Only Ten Days from Date for City Council Candidate Filing in Garland
So here we are in Garland, just about 10 days out from the deadline for candidate filing as a member of the City Council or the office of Mayor and we have no candidates who have filed to run against incumbent David Gibbons in District 1 who was elected two years ago with no opposing candidate; Rich Aubin in District 5 another incumbent running unopposed the second time for his second term; or Deborah Morris running for the first time in District 2.
Since the mayoral election will be a special election, we have to wait until City Council announces it before those candidates step forth, but several people have petitions of interest circulating for this office.
Garland is a minority/majority city
When it comes to race, I’ve noticed that it is a topic that is somewhat designated as impolite to bring up for discussion. And I don’t know if it figures in as a significant factor in this discussion on why non-Hispanic whites make up 36.7% of the population of Garland while 75% of our City Council are non-Hispanic whites. I wonder what would happen in Garland if more of the majority not only stepped up to the plate and voted but also ran for office?
Garland is a Minority/Majority City—meaning that we have more Hispanics, Latinos and people of color than we have white/non-Hispanics—yet serving on our city council we have one Hispanic and one Black man. The map above shows distribution by percentages of white non-Hispanics in our city. The darkest rust color indicates the highest concentration of white non-Hispanics at 78%. The light gray is at 2% or less of white non-Hispanics. Source: https://statisticalatlas.com/place/Texas/Garland/Race-and-Ethnicity
There are people who will tell us that race doesn’t matter in the USA, but when I look at charts like the one shown below, I have to ask, Really? Is this distribution just an accident? Is perhaps part of this reality related to representation in local government? I don’t know, but I do know that in order for representation in our government to better reflect the demographics of our city, more than the typical 5% of registered voters are going to have to not only show up at the polls, but also run for local offices like City Council.
If you know of someone in Garland whom you think would make a good City Council member, send them the link to this post. Better representation makes better communities. Another point: Perhaps the reason we have such low turnout of voters at local elections in Garland is because we so often only have one candidate to vote for. In these cases, those who say "why bother" have an excellent point. In those cases, vote/don't vote = same outcome. Only ordinary people like us have the power to create a better world with better representation.
Unlike national campaigns for Congress, or even state elections, you don't need a large bank account to win a local election for City Council. If you have good ideas and if you are willing to walk neighborhoods and talk with people face-to-face for the next three months, you have a good chance to win your election. One person at a time.