Frustrated With City Government

RECEIVED Sun., May 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    A few days ago, I went to do my civic duty during early voting. On the way to the polls, I made a decision. It was not an easy one to make and I had to give it much thought. I decided to vote against all incumbents in this election regardless of party or record. Why? My reasoning was that although many incumbents have good track records, the overall summary of successes vs. failures of City Councils at large over the years I’ve lived in Austin was the deciding factor in my decision. In short, I continue to see a council attitude of keeping status quo in the Austin community. This attitude is contrary to the will of the people; it is unacceptable, and it must change. Therefore, my position in this election year is that a clean sweep of great magnitude is long overdue, and incumbents everywhere must accept the fact that they will likely be tossed out of office.
    In 1994, I chose Austin over several other cities based on its (at that time) reputation as an environmentally friendly, bicycle friendly, and transit friendly city. Since then, I’ve been disappointed time and time again by a less-than-progressive stance of various elected city officials to maintain and strengthen the city’s reputation. A case in point: Upon hearing the news that City Council had axed a proposal to create a pedestrian and bike-friendly environment around the Triangle development, I was shocked but not surprised by this unfortunate action. This is one of many examples of council action that has frustrated me greatly and that has diluted the trust in those who represent me and many others like me that share this sentiment. However, this frustration with government action does not stop at City Hall. It goes beyond that. Government action at all levels which disregards the public opinion is fair game for the frustrated public. All around America the storm clouds of voter frustration and anger are gathering. All around America, incumbents that favor the status quo over change are seen as part of the problem but not part of the solution. And all around America, voters are regretting their decisions made during the elections of 2000 and 2004. The sleeping giant of the electorate has awakened from its apathy, and it is putting all the incumbents on short notice: Status quo is no longer an option; be prepared for the likelihood that you will relinquish your office to a new occupant. If I were an incumbent today, I would be very, very concerned indeed.
Al Armstrong
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