Election Day is November 4th. Though many have already voted early or by mail, there are plenty of us traditionalists and who show up at the polls on that first Tuesday in November to mark our ballots and get our "I Voted” sticker.
This year, without a presidential election, there is bound to be a lower turnout. And that is a sad reflection on how our society views elections, as if only the guy at the top matters, when it’s actually the elected officials at the state, county and local level that have the biggest influence on our taxes and our government services.
Our Florida gubernatorial race is flinging enough mud to turn off any voter. Yet, surprisingly, that is often the very effect some of those slinging the mud want. It’s no longer a dirty little secret, it’s right out there in the open. Some politicians and their advisors want there to be fewer voters voting. Their polls have shown them that they benefit if voters of a certain stripe, location or party, do not go to the polls. How un-American is that?
Don’t let the negative ads keep you from the polls. Surprise the people who want you to stay home, who want to silence you. Vote!
In the meanwhile, I am appreciating the near-miraculous benefits of my DVR that allows me to fast-forward through every single one of those mud-slinging TV ads. Thirty some years in the state with the first in the nation primary taught me a few things. Caller ID and a DVR are the finest inventions of the modern age, allowing me to ignore the awful mud-slinging TV ads and the robocalls. Who has ever had their opinion swayed by some recorded voice that disturbs your precious few hours at home to tell you how great their candidate is or how evil their opponent is? No one, I suspect.
Here on the beach, we will see a ballot for two Beach Fire Board seats, with two candidates vying for each one. As the campaign has heated up, it occurs to us that it’s time for us to explain our Campaign Policy. All qualified candidates for local office receive a copy of the full policy soon after the qualification period ends. Islanders are always welcome to stop by our office and pick up a copy, or email us and we can send an electronic copy.
The rationale behind our policy is that we believe our role is to provide information to residents and voters, not tell them who to vote for. We do not endorse anyone for elected office. Our efforts to provide information on candidates lead us to offer significant free editorial space for candidates to tell their own story in their own words, should they choose to utilize it. We offer each candidate space to announce their candidacy and write a Guest Opinion. We also offer them the opportunity to answer at least one "Ask the Candidate” question.
Letters to the editor from Islanders in support of candidates are encouraged. Letter writers must adhere to the Submissions Policy printed each week on the editorial page. We will accept one campaign letter per writer per candidate. Letters that raise new issues or attack any candidate will not be printed in the last issue before the election (October 31, 2014.) Letters that appear to be a result of a letter-writing campaign will not be printed. Letters from candidates or their families will not be published on any subject after their candidacy has been announced.
Letters that allege facts about a candidate will be fact checked, just as letters to the editor on other subjects that allege facts are fact checked. If those facts cannot be verified, the letter is not printed, or is printed with the allegations removed. As we do not allow candidates the right to write letters to the editor in response, we feel it is our responsibility to verify alleged facts stated in letters. Opinions are fine, just don’t tell us Candidate X did or said something unless it can be documented.
Have a favorite candidate for a local office? Send us a letter telling us why you’ll vote for that candidate. Focus on your candidate’s best points instead of their opponent’s supposed faults and we’ll all be happier. At least this editor will be.
Earlier this year, our Town Council appointed a five-member Charter Review Committee, charged with reviewing and making suggestions on the Town’s Charter. All five members are devoted to the Town of Fort Myers Beach and want what’s best for our Town.
The Charter came before the Comprehensive Plan and before the Land Development Code. It is our "mini” constitution that established our town in 1995. It’s a pretty important document. The Charter calls for regular review of the Charter and that is what is underway now.
The Town Charter has 17 articles or sections and the review committee will work their way through all 17 of them. They have asked for residents help with this responsibility. They want to hear from Town residents. Should something be changed? Should something be added, or dropped? What’s missing in the Town Charter?
The first step is participating in this important process is knowing what’s in the Charter. It’s available to anyone on the Town website. Compared to the Comp Plan (547 pages) and the LDC (411 pages), the Charter is quick reading at a mere 13 pages. No computer? Call Town Hall for a copy.
While it’s an important document, it’s not sacrosanct. Not too long ago, there were several residents who voiced concerns that a Special Meeting of Town Council should provide more than 24 hour notice. Well, that 24-hour notice is in the Charter, Article IV. Want it changed? Let the Charter Review Committee know.
They’re meeting the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 9am in Council Chambers. They would love to hear from Islanders.
It’s our Town, weigh in on the Charter.