Don't Pay the Ransom, Change the Date

Guest Correspondence

I almost didn’t see it, a sheet of paper rolled up, stuck between the knob and glass of my front door, a door I do not use. I almost didn’t read it, almost tossed it in the green bin figuring it was another flier offering to paint my house or cut my weeds. Almost didn’t see it, almost tossed it, and once unrolled, wished I had, but I didn’t. Democratic Party Voter Guide 2018. 

How could whoever put it there not have noticed my sign adorned front yard; Gillum, Pratt, Good, Beggs, Nelson, Shapiro. Why offer an obvious Democrat guidance on how to vote? Turns out it was that other sign—VOTE YES to Change the Date—that earned me that rolled up sheet of paper jammed up against my door. It looked kinda like a ransom note. Turned out it kinda was.

Candidate endorsements listed in kindergarten block letters next to giant, blacked in ovals. State amendments, a yes/no mixed bag: the Legacy Trail a ‘yes’, county charter amendments 4 of 5 ‘no position’, and next to last “Change the Date of Election of City Commissioners”—a citizen petition initiative placed on the ballot by me and 4,731 City voters, a majority of signers Democrats—a ‘no.’ 

Was this a trick, some kinda shady underhanded scheme meant to confuse, to kidnap the hearts and minds of Democrats? Yes, and it came straight from the top, from party bosses willing to ransom our principles, and for what?

Why take a position at all ? 

Why go out of the way—no explanation, no discussion, no collegial back and forth, just a no like an impatient parent to a child—to defeat a common sense change that would do nothing more than allow City voters to vote on City matters in November when honestly—you know it’s true—most of us were raised to vote?

Why? Fear. Fear if more of us vote in nonpartisan City elections it will be harder to control how Democrats vote. And that’s a risky outcome party bosses are willing to ransom our principles to prevent.

“The Democratic Party was founded on the promise of an expanded democracy. Democrats believe we must make it easier to vote, not harder.” A promise is a promise, and this one promise—whatever one’s party—the most fundamental promise made to all, must never be broken. Never.

City voters  any party, no party—all of us—are being given a chance this November to think for ourselves, to break free from a broke down, lo turnout, high-buck (100K), odd-year March election cycle to one that can’t help but make our City government more accountable to all of us, not just the few who sometimes vote in March, but to the many who’ve always voted in November. 

Think for yourself. Don’t pay the ransom. Vote Yes! Change the Date.

Diana Hamilton is a former City Commission candidate in Sarasota.

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