An Informed Voter Votes Responsibly, More Often, And Drives The Election Outcome. The Uninformed Voter Is The Politician's Pawn.
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Only 9% of Registered Voters Voted
A special election was held on November 12th, for Norman’s Water Reclamation Improvement Project. More than 60,000 voters were qualified to vote, but sadly only 9% voted. Citizens, who fail to vote, allow small groups to exercise undue influence over our government by relinquishing control to a small minority. A poor voter turnout leaves too much power in the hands of a few City officials and community focus groups. Minority rule but majority dissent is contradictory to our system of government.
Important Issues To Follow in 2014
The next year or two promises to be a rough and tumble financial time as a number of costly issues are being planned for the citizens of Norman. These Are as follows:
The utility rate amendment was overwhelmingly adopted by a vote of the people in 1974 via an initiative petition. According to the Daily Oklahoman on June 19, 1974, “more that 500 people jammed the council chambers to protest a leap in utility rates.” After numerous public protests throughout the spring and summer, the Mayor and Council, in spite of public outcry, adopted an 85% increase for single family dwellings on July 1, 1974. Businesses and institutions received a similar increase.
An organized citizen group, Norman Citizens for Civic Responsibility (NCCR), led the revolt and initiated two petitions. One was a referendum to repeal the rate increases and the second was to add a Charter provision requiring a vote of the people to raise utility rates. While only 1,947 signatures were required, 9,300 angry citizens signed the petition.
The City filed a lawsuit protesting both petitions that was ultimately appealed to the State Supreme court by the City against the citizens, but the Court affirmed the sufficiency of the citizens Charter Amendment petition requiring a vote of Norman citizens to raise utility rates. An election was scheduled for November 18, 1975, and voters approved the measure by an overwhelming margin of 66 +%, with 7,565 voting. This convinced the Mayor and Council to roll back the rates. Since the passage of the amendment, 22 requests for increases have been brought to the people and 17 have passed. Past experience clearly demonstrates Norman Citizens respond.
In the spring we will see the first of these issues placed on the ballot, and the others will follow as planned by the City. These proposals, if approved, will increase our sales tax, raise our utility bills, and add to our property taxes. The Strategic Water Plan and the commuter/light rail project alone could cost as much as $900 million or more. We are facing a collection of very expensive ideas, plus one that threatens to restrict our voting rights. With current tax rates squeezing middle income families, we must determine wants vs. needs before we are asked to vote.
It is vital to stay informed by viewing council meetings on Cox Cable Channel 20 or to attend the Study Sessions, public meetings or City Council. Readers will also be able to follow these issues on CFRGnorman.com. When we fail to vote, someone else will decide the issues for us but we will pay.