Time to talk about POLITICS! I wrote this for my newsletter, it is a bit of a rant and I understand that it doesn’t paint the full picture, but nobody is talking about this so I feel it’s important to put it out there. I hope in the future to write more about this, if you have any questions or comments, you know how to find me.
Have you ever looked at the condition of the road outside your house and thought to yourself “Maybe I should run for a seat in City government”. Guess what? This is your chance.
In March of 2019 the City of West Palm Beach votes for a new Mayor and three commission seats. The deadline to file with the City Clerk is Tuesday, January 8th.
Here is how it works: In West Palm Beach we have five commission districts and City Commissioners have two year terms. On the odd years Commissioners from districts 2 and 4 are elected, and on the even years Commissioners from districts 1, 3 and 5 are elected. 2019 is an odd year, so District 2 and District 4 are up for re-election. Because Commissioner Paula Ryan is running for Mayor the downtown district (District 3) is up for re-election.
They say “all politics are local” and the job of the City Commission is hugely important: setting the policy that will determine the future of the City of West Palm Beach. It’s a part-time job and pays $35,000/year.
Commissioners are voted on by everyone in the city (not just those in their district) and they vote on decisions that affect everyone in the city. So even if your district is not up for re-election, whoever becomes commissioner for the other districts will be making decisions that directly affect you and your district.
Here is a sad fact about our local politics. More often than not City Commission elections are not contested. This means that only one person is running and they automatically are elected and won’t even appear on the ballot on Election Day.
Question: When was the last time we had an contested election in District 3 (Downtown)?
Let that settle in… you go on facebook, and see people truly concerned about the issues downtown and the plight of our northwest historic neighborhood. For the last 10 years nobody has stepped up and said “I am going to challenge how things are being done” and thrown their hat into the ring.
Thankfully, this year it looks like we will have a race for our Downtown (District 3) commission seat. But as it stands now, districts 2 and 4 will go uncontested.
People are always encouraging you to “Get Out & VOTE!”, but if you live in a district which won’t have an election because only one person is running, then if you want to see change come to your neighborhood don’t sit on the sidelines of democracy! Get Out and Run for City Commission!
To be clear, I’m not throwing shade at our commissioners. They have my full respect. It is often a thankless job, they stepped up to do the job. What I’m saying is that in the City of West Palm Beach we should have more people (YOU) who want to join our city commission, bring new ideas and vision to the table, and have an active role in how our great City is governed.
We should never have an uncontested election in West Palm Beach.
Don’t get me wrong, as soon as you show interest people will give you many reasons why you shouldn’t run. It takes too much time, it’s too expensive, nobody votes in municipal elections, politics are too dirty, you have no experience.
First off, nobody has more experience than you when they get started. Secondly, the only reason why West Palm Beach politics are dirty/expensive and nobody votes, is because we have so few people who are willing to run! An active democracy, bringing new people and new ideas into City Hall will solve so many of the issues that we’re seeing today.
So… If you care deeply about your community, if you have a vision for what you want for the City of West Palm Beach, if you have friends and neighbors who will support you, if you are willing to spend your evenings and weekends knocking on doors and spreading your ideas, then you should run for City Commission.
If you live in districts 2, 3 & 4 you have until noon January 8th to qualify for the March election. If you’re in districts 1 & 5 you have a whole year to think about it 🙂
If you’re even considering it, stop by City Hall and talk to the City Clerk and they will walk you through everything you need to do to get started.