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by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · November 2nd, 2017


One of the most important votes in your immediate area will come up on Tuesday, November 7. Do you realize how important that vote really is?

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate provided some information about the importance of City Council elections. He said, "As a former mayor of the state's second largest city and former president of the Iowa League of Cities, I can assure you that city government plays an important role in the lives of Iowans. Although these elections do not receive very much attention, they are every bit as important as the general elections held in Iowa every two years."

Pate noted that Iowa is one of the best states in the nation for voter registration and participation, but, he added, "Unfortunately, city elections usually have drastically lower turnout than general elections."

Pate stated 30 percent of your property tax bill goes to city government. If you were holding $100 in your hand and I just took $30 of it and did whatever I wanted to with it, would you holler? You bet you would!

It's the same thing when you don't know your council members and what they are doing with your tax money.

Here are a few of the topics about which your city council makes decisions:

Streets

Utilities

Stoplights

Law enforcement

The fire department

Garbage collection

Snow removal

Fireworks

Local ordinances and resolutions

Curfews

Types of pets you can have

Building a fence on your property

A new library (ha, snuck that one in!)

Mr. Pate has seen municipal government in action from a somewhat different point of view than I have, and he has not seen Marion's government in action from the same perspective that I have. But I can guarantee you, he would cringe at the amount of attention you pay to the decisions your council members make.

Just a few weeks ago, the total number of residents in the council chamber was a whopping 12 people. And while some people don't attend council meetings but listen via YouTube, the average over a random 12 meetings this year has been 38 listeners, with a low of 17 and a high of 79.

What we do have, though, is almost 27,000 registered voters. That's as of Monday afternoon. (I called the Election Services office.)

In my job, I hear from a lot of you. That vocalizing frequently comes after the council has made a decision that you totally ignore until it affects your complacency. Then we have all sorts of people, some of whom I've never seen at a council meeting before, griping and carrying on as though they've lost their best friend.

Oh, and you should hear the wild rumors and complaints I hear on the street! Wow! It's sometimes almost as good as reading a juicy novel - and about as realistic.

My suggestion, good citizens of Marion, is that you still have a few days to figure out what the candidates for City Council are saying they will do. Then my next suggestion is that you pay some attention to what they really do at those Council meetings instead of sitting at home watching reruns or Thursday night football.

This is your city (mine, too). Let's get in gear and get our voices heard - through voting Tuesday, and through paying attention from now on by attending meetings, asking questions, and letting our representatives know what we want.
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