Throughout the calendar year, it occurs each and every workday. During this primary and general election season, the angst is amplified and I hear it multiple times each day. Typically, this lamentation is voiced by a member of the business community.
It is an expression of grief that is offered as both a question and a mournful siren lament, “Why can’t we elect more business-friendly city councilors?”
The questioner’s body language is typically the same: eyes downcast, head bent forward and shaking back and forth, shoulders slumped. It appears as if the weight of the world is on the questioner, or at least the weight of Duluth. It is a posture and an appearance that one would witness at a funeral or at the scene of a gruesome accident.
Based on the severity of the individual’s melancholy, I am left to decide the degree to which I may share what I hope will be empowering questions. I must decide if both of us have the energy for a challenging and candid conversation.
The sad truth is that business community members typically do not engage – to the degree that is necessary – in the rough and tumble, impassioned, missionary zeal of our local political campaigns. The recently held September 12th local primary election results offered us a timely dose of reality and a corresponding challenge.
Duluth has 52,662 registered voters. Of which only 7,267 voted in the September Primary Election. This was a voter turnout of 13.80%. 45,395 votes were left unused and wasted. The most votes received by a City Council Candidate was 3,859, earned by Councilor Zack Filipovich. The most votes cast for a Duluth School Board Candidate was 4,074, supporting candidate Sally Trnka. 3,859 votes and 4,074 votes are small numbers when we consider that 45,395 votes were not cast.
Would it be fair for me to ask this disgruntled, deflated business community member, “Did you vote in our recent local primary election? Did you contribute to the campaign of a local candidate? Did you volunteer your time to distribute literature, or place lawn signs, for a local candidate? Have you researched the position statements on local issues championed by the local candidates?”
Let me get more personal. Did you do these things?
If so, congratulations. You made it more likely that we will elect local officials who understand, and have empathy for, the challenges faced by our local businesses.
If you did not do these things, you would be wise to not be critical of the candidates selected by those who did vote, and volunteer, and contribute.
Fortunately, we have an immediate, ideal opportunity to have our voices heard within our local political scene. We can cast our votes at the upcoming general election. I look forward to seeing you Tuesday, November 7 at the Election Hall.