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How ordinary voters can set the agenda - The Galveston County Daily News : Editorials

November 27, 2014

How ordinary voters can set the agenda

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Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 12:00 am

The Daily News asked readers what questions they’d ask of the candidates running for city council and mayor.

The invitation was and is intended for all city and school elections in the county. Most of the replies have come from Galveston, where campaigns for City Council have heated up in a hurry.

Some of the questions we’ve received will be asked Wednesday at a candidates forum at Ball High School. Others will be part of the newspaper’s online questionnaire, which has become a staple of all elections in the county.

We think these questions are important. Perhaps if you look at some samples you’ll see why.

• After Hurricane Ike, the council raised the tax rate but promised to lower it when the property values recovered. The tax base has recovered. What do you plan to do?

• Are you going let the city manager run the city? If a council member calls or emails the city manager, should the manager be instructed to inform all the members?

• How will you handle conflicts of interest? Will you discuss and vote on matters that involve companies in which you or your family members have a financial stake in?

• The expenses for the police officers hired to enforce the seawall parking plan are so steep there’s going to be little money left over for improvements, such as restrooms, drinking fountains and showers. Can those expenses be billed to the general fund?

• Everybody seems to have a design on the Convention Center Surplus Fund, and it’s being frittered away in small bites. Where could that money do the most good?

• Do you have a plan for a trolley system? If so, where should the lion’s share of the money to come from — hotel occupancy tax or the general fund?

Those are good, thoughtful questions. And the people who are seeking to represent should have a better answer than “I’ll study it.”

Here’s the point we hope you’ll see in this process:

Often, candidates define the public agenda. They tell you, the voter, what they want to do.

It’s better when informed voters play a role in setting the agenda. It’s better when you, as a voter, have an agenda in mind before you begin looking at the candidates.

Informed voters find good candidates who share their agenda just by asking good questions.


At a glance

WHAT: Galveston City Council/Mayoral forum

WHEN: 5:45 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Ball High School auditorium, 4115 Ave. O, in Galveston

SUBMIT QUESTIONS: Readers can submit questions to candidates in all of the county’s municipal or school elections by emailing letters@galvnews.com. In the subject line write “Election Questions.”