By Marc Garman — Editor and Curmudgeon-in-Chief VIB
This is an open letter to the twelve thousand or so of you out there who blithely voted for candidates Richard Porter and John Lewis after they announced their withdrawal from the recent Vallejo School Board election.
Let’s face it. Most folks in Vallejo don’t give a crap about local politics. This despite our fair city having suffered the turmoil and stigma of bankruptcy, and the school district having gone flat bust for all the wrong reasons which include incompetence, cronyism, corruption, mismanagement or just outright idiocy. And yet, the majority of you still can’t be bothered to vote or entertain some interest in the facts surrounding candidates’ competence or even their status or eligibility. I still regularly encounter folks who don’t even know Osby Davis is The Mayor.
Now, school board candidates Porter and Lewis were still on the ballot despite having withdrawn. This is unfortunate. The way the system handles candidates who drop out late is clearly flawed and prone to generate confusion. There is no provision for a note or update at the polling place, although both candidates made very public announcements in The Times Herald. A thousand or two confused souls voting in error, or casting protest votes would be comprehensible. But to see Richard Porter, who dropped out and took a teaching position with the district instead come in second in a field of 8 candidates with 7534 votes and John Lewis last, but still pulling 4637 votes was a bit of a shock even to an avowed cynic and political curmudgeon such as myself.
The past school board election clearly proves not one, not two, but three things:
- Most people in Vallejo don’t give a crap about local politics and can’t be bothered to vote, but often do like to complain (Just shut up please.)
- Large numbers of people who actually attempt to give the appearance of giving a crap, whether through guilt or some misplaced sense of duty are in fact utterly clueless and go to the polls with no idea of who is running and merely color in those circles based on the description and their best guess.
- There are a lot of stupid people in Vallejo. Unfortunately, a lot of them also vote.
This whole mess is really a very illustrative example which confirms the suspicions of many as to the political make-up of this place. There are a number of voting blocs based around our varied ethnicities, ideologies and social groups. Now, there is a need to take a new group into account: Ballot Box Morons.
The impact the truly clueless voter can have on our politics (and budget) should not be underestimated. The Vallejo School Board is facing a potentially rather messy process of appointing a provisional replacement for Porter. Ordinance does not mandate that the next highest vote-getter in the election (Cayangyang in this case) be placed. However, should the board not appoint Cayangyang, a special election is probable. With an extremely low bar to call for a special election (835 signatures) it is more than likely that the blessed event will be crammed down everybody’s collective throat for the bargain price of $550,000 if the board goes for a different appointee. The current ordinance seems ill equipped to handle this situation and probably could do with some amending, but we’re stuck for now with a situation subject to posturing and efforts to influence the boards’ decision. Not very reassuring.
Well folks, we have an election for three city council members and a mayor in 2016. At least twelve thousand of you out there (probably more) have some time to buy a clue. Or not. VIB will continue to try to put information out there to help inform voters. I personally spent a lot of time providing video coverage of candidate forums (full and complete coverage without editorial comment) leading up to the school board election. Obviously a pretty pointless exercise in windmill tilting. Oh well. Never stopped me before.
And finally, may I suggest that when next election time rolls around if you have absolutely positively no idea on voting day that you JUST STAY HOME. I hear that the CW Network has some highly titillating dramas on TV that might hold your attention for a time…just long enough for the polls to close. PLEASE!