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Carlos B. Lopez, Constable

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Bruce Elfant

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Notebook Archives



Constable's Notebook - May 2011

On Saturday May 14, Austin voters will have the opportunity to choose between 11 candidates who are vying for 3 positions on the Austin City Council. Shortly after the election the next City Council will begin a process similar to what our state leaders are currently going through. While our population and needs for emergency services, roads, water, libraries, parks, environmental protection, etc. continue to increase, property and sales tax revenues have decreased as have federal and state funds for local services. We know there will not be nearly enough revenue to fully fund many important services and the newly elected council members will have to determine which services to fund and whether to raise taxes.

Yes this is an important election, but if past elections are an indicator, more people will fly flags on July 4th than will cast votes on May 14th. While flying the American Flag is a powerful symbol of support for our nation it is my belief that voting is far more important and essential if we wish to preserve the representative form of democracy we claim to cherish. The Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies recently published a report of voter turnout in Austin City Council elections. They found that in 1971, 57% of registered voters participated in that year’s city council election. By 1981 turnout had dropped to 38%. In 1991 23% voted. Fourteen percent voted in 2001 and by 2008 voter turnout dropped to an all time low of 8%.

If you believe that 8% of voters who may not share your point of view, should not exclusively be determining Austin’s future, I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read about the candidates and vote for those who best represent your point of view. The Austin League of Women Voters publishes a Voters Guide that is available at public libraries and online at www.lwvaustin.org. The Austin American Statesman and Chronicle also publish council election articles and candidate endorsements. Many neighborhood and other organizations also host candidate forums throughout Austin.

Early voting begins April 27th and extends through May 5th at 20 locations throughout Austin. Early voting and election-day voting locations are available at the Travis County Clerk’s website, www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/. They will also be published in the American Statesman.

Our founding fathers whose battle cry during the American Revolution was “No taxation without representation,” could not have imagined that so few American citizens would take advantage of the very rights that were at the core of the Colony’s differences with Great Britain. It is our right and our responsibility as citizens of the oldest and most democratic nation on earth, to participate in our democracy.

I hope to see you at the polls.



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