Hello Idaho by Robert Ehlert: Close races highlights voters’ impact

November 7, 2013 

Robert Ehlert

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If you wanted Mayor Tom Dale, of Nampa, to continue to lead your city and you didn’t vote Tuesday, what are your thoughts today?

If you wanted either or both of the Boise bond measures to pass and you didn’t weigh in, do you have regrets?

This is not to take anything away from Nampa Mayor-elect Bob Henry— who won by 113 votes in an election where 7,819 were cast in the four-way race. I am confident Henry can rise to the task in Nampa.

Nor are these questions meant to cast aspersions on the “unorganized” opposition to the bonds that nobody seemed able to identify before it was too late and they scuttled the initiatives.

There are city council candidates in Meridian this week questioning themselves about whether they did enough, because a few of them fell just a couple dozen votes short.

Maybe everybody did their jobs except those who didn’t care to vote. The 20 percent to 23 percent who showed up at the polls around the Valley saw how critical their votes were in several close elections.

The people who came out for Bob Henry had a passion. They wanted change. Henry himself doubted he could turn back Dale, the face of Nampa for the past 12 years. He becomes mayor with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Being on the wrong side of the Boise bond proposals is harder to swallow. Both measures got well beyond a majority but fell short of the 66 percent required mandate.

If you believe the opposition to spending increases is always there, and that number is static, then you have to ask yourself if enough was done to motivate the people who were in favor of paying that buck-a-month for enhanced city services. If you did effectively reach out to “Yes” voters, why did so many Boiseans believe somebody else would carry their wishes to the polls?

The public safety bond got 16,050 votes, 64 percent of the vote. It needed about 16,550 to pass. Both are huge, supportive numbers. For context, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie only got 60 percent in his win Tuesday — and that may be enough to propel him into the 2016 presidential race.

More than 60 of every 100 voters in Boise favored the bonds. Though that is informative, it wasn’t enough. It is hard to say if what was “rejected” — with such big, favorable numbers — was due to the method of funding or the marketing strategy. I’ll let others figure that out. Maybe those who didn’t vote know the answer.

It is unnecessary to get preachy or self-righteous about going to the polls. Voting/not voting dispenses its own rewards and penalties between now and the next election.

Robert Ehlert is the Idaho Stateman's editorial page editor. He can be reached at rehlert@idahostatesman.com. Follow him on Twitter at @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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