An editorial by Gary Nager
Even though I went into the 2008 election season with an open mind and watched all of the debates prior to making my selection, as a registered Republican, I took quite a bit of abuse four years ago for endorsing Democratic candidate (and now, U.S. President) Barack Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain to be our country’s top executive officer.
This year, I will admit that I’m even more torn — and will likely remain that way until I find out who Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate — about the upcoming election. No, I don’t believe Pres. Obama has made good on all of his promises and although I see some evidence of the local economy rebounding, it certainly hasn’t happened quickly enough for my tastes.
So, if Gov. Romney picks someone as a running mate who can make me feel more comfortable about who would be running this country if something happened to him — such as former U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice or ret. Gen. Colin Powell or even current State Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was recently “mentioned” as a “possible” veep candidate — who to endorse in this so-called “big” election might be easy for me.
But, speaking on that topic, the reason I put “big” in quotes is because I still hear waaaaay too often — from otherwise very intelligent people — “I only vote in the ‘big’ elections.” If you honestly believe that voting for U.S. President is a “bigger” election for us than the elections of our county commissioners, state legislators and/or our local school board reps, well, I simply don’t understand your logic.
In terms of just the value of your vote, even if the state of Florida again comes down to a recount, the likelihood that your single vote — out of a few million votes statewide and tens of millions nationwide — might “sway” the presidential election in any way is very low, indeed.
However, considering that fewer than 40 percent of the nearly 250,000 registered Democrats and less than 50 percent of the 213,000 registered Republicans in Hillsborough took part in the 2008 August primary elections — when nearly 74 percent of all registered voters in the county cast ballots in the 2008 general election — it’s definitely possible that a committed bloc of local voters can affect the outcome of one or more of the races to determine who will run our state and county governments and the Hillsborough School Board next Tuesday, August 14.
In the case of the School Board elections, the August “primary” is always the only vote for these non-partisan elections, which will elect three of the five Board members (including New Tampa’s District 3, where incumbent Dr. Jack Lamb faces Cindy Stuart, a newcomer who has visited our area a lot, trying to get locals involved in the election; New Tampa residents also can vote in countywide District 7, where the incumbent, Carol Kurdell, faces five challengers — Joseph W. Jordan-Robinson, Jr.; Terry Kemple; Carl Francis “Captain Carl” Kosierowski, Robert McElheny & Michael Weston).
In case you hadn’t heard this, the School Board members determine how the Hillsborough School District spends its money on your children’s schools, including when and how to build new ones, which schools (if any) will have to add portable classrooms, etc., and make a myriad of other decisions that affect the lives of every parent, student, teacher and staff member at every local elementary, middle and high school.
You say your kids are all in private school, so what do you care about voting for the School Board? For one thing, many of these schools are located within your communities, even if your kids don’t attend them, so how those schools are taken care of in the face of ever-shrinking budgets might be of some interest to you.
Looking past the School Board, however, those who run our county government play an even bigger role in our lives by controlling the purse strings for things like new and improved roads and parks, the county Sheriff’s Office and Fire Dept., etc.
And, our incumbent District 2 commissioner Victor Crist will face Lutz resident and fellow Republican Sharon Calvert in what is known as a “universal primary” (meaning all registered voters in the county will be able to vote in August because there is no Democrat or any other candidate for the winner to face in November).
New Tampa Republicans also can vote in the countywide District 6 race, where candidates Margaret Iuculano and Don Kruse square off who will face incumbent Democrat Kevin Beckner in November.
And, if you read the story at the bottom of page 1 of this issue, you already know that Republican District 60 incumbent and New Tampa resident Shawn Harrison isn’t facing a primary opponent next week, but two Democratic candidates — Z.J. Hafeez and Mark Danish — are squaring off to determine who will face Harrison in the November election.
In other words, definitely watch or go take part in the Republican National Convention in a couple of weeks (August 27-30), but if you really want to do something to invest in your community, I hope you’ll remember to cast a ballot on Tuesday, August 14!
We will have precinct-by-precinct Primary Election results for New Tampa in our next issue!