Tuesday March 15, 2016 – Florida Presidential Preference Primary Day. Also, in the fair City of Apopka Day is primary election day for two of the four Commission Seats in our Council, Seats 3 & 4. Six brave souls have spent the last 3 months campaigning, attending forums, fundraising, waving signs, even facebooking and tweeting for support. Almost 38% of the eligible voters in Apopka lined up at the polls and the good voters of Apopka sent two candidates, Alice Nolan and Young Kim packing, while the other four were sent into run-off election territory. Doug Bankson, Sam Ruth, Kyle Becker and Bill Arrowsmith campaigned for YOUR vote for another month, up until Tuesday April 12, 2016.
But then, a funny thing happened on the way to the VFW Polling Place. Only about 18% of the voters in Apopka managed to find their way to that polling place on April 12th. With all the potential and rapid growth that could occur in our City over the next several years, not to mention at a huge expense, I would think more people would have wanted their voices heard. Now, I do understand that the March election was the Presidential primary and voter turnout should have been higher, but to see such an enormous drop from one election to the runoff a month later, was truly disheartening to say the least.
What was the reason for this drop? Apathy, complacency? Too inconvenient? Did many think the two “winners” of the March 15th primary had actually won their seats and thus these people did not see why they had to go out a month later and vote again? News reports that Commissioner Arrowsmith had won the primary for Seat 4 by the highest total votes ever may have gotten some to think his re-election was secure. As it turned out, it wasn’t.
We should NEVER take our right to vote for granted, no matter what outcome we think might occur, or the power of that vote. It is apparent from the results that people who voted for Commissioner Arrowsmith in March, decided to stay home in April. Now our City will lose that leadership and experience that comes with 39 years on the job, just when we will need it the most. Will newcomer Commissioner-Elect Becker demonstrate the same concern, level of love and fiscal restraint as Commissioner Arrowsmith did? No one doubts Commissioner Sam Ruth’s deep love for this City; will Commissioner-Elect Bankson be able to show that same depth of love in his decisions? I certainly hope so, but only time will tell. We will now have to watch and wait till the first Council meeting in May and beyond.
Voting is a right AND a privelege that very few in the entire world have. It is shameful indeed that so many here do not think enough of that right to use it every chance they get. Local elections are just as important, if not more so, than state and National elections; local elections affect our pocketbooks the MOST, as well as the town we live in and what happens in that town. Our next local elections occur in 2018, when Commission seats 1 & 2 will be up for election, as well as the Mayor’s race. I sure hope we do not take THAT for granted.