Jim Walker and Stephanie Taber recently debated the desirability and merits of Measure A, which proposes to change Chico city elections from November to June, probably decreasing the vote total by as much as one-half, which seems to be the point.
Ms. Taber—who identified herself as a Chico Tea Party Patriot and did the same number at the Chico Tea Party meeting I went to a couple of weeks before—told a story about November municipal elections being overshadowed by state and national campaigns and not getting the attention they deserve. As a direct result of the electorate’s being distracted and flustered by the bright lights and flim-flam of national and state politics, Chico has a city council that funds art projects and roundabouts instead of hiring more cops. Moving city elections to June would nudge aside some of the riffraff, namely students, and leave the voters who know what’s important. That’s not what she said, but I bet that’s what she meant, which reminds me of the Chico Tea Party’s focus on unspoken social values.
Ms. Taber had nearly memorized her speech, but she couldn’t deal with Jim Walker’s facts and numbers and sense. More than once she claimed amazement that anybody wouldn’t want city elections in June. “It is undemocratic. I can’t believe that these councillors are trying to stop this measure. We had eight thousand people sign the petition. That is democracy in action. It is the constitution that allows us to do this.” She went on like that, vaguely and in mildly high dudgeon.
It seems the Measure A petitioners asked people to sign to get “fair elections in Chico,” rather than to force college students to remember during a month of finals, good-byes, and moving back to their parents’ also to vote for the Chico City Council, though it may have loomed large in their thoughts. Frankly, “fair elections for Chico” sounded so familiar, I probably signed the petition. I sign most petitions like that just so we’ll have more to vote on, no matter what. At least it may make us think, although for some of us that may not be such a good idea after all.
Measure A sounds sneaky, like the Chico Tea Party’s unspoken social values. If Measure A’s proponents want to reduce the number of energetic, intelligent, inquisitive voters, they should at least say so. Maybe they’re deep-down ashamed of themselves and their social values, not to mention Measure A. That’d be a heck of a fix to be in.