David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Election Day Miscellany and Two Related Thoughts

Here's the miscellany:

  • Just after 7:00 a.m., a extraordinary volunteer from my wife's campaign called to report that she had been first in line to vote in her precinct. I went to my precinct a little later, about 7:50 a.m., partly because I kept answering the phone. I was 15th to vote in my precinct. In the primary in October, I was just a few minutes earlier, and I was 8th. It would not be safe to extrapolate from this that the turnout citywide will be almost twice as large as for the primary, but that is what City Recorder Dick Colborn said to expect, and it held true for at least the first hour in one precinct this morning.
  • This time the electricity was on at Shelley Elementary, where I vote, so I didn't vote by flashlight.
  • The weather was grey but not inclement -- also an improvement on primary day. If it doesn't get worse, it probably won't affect the turnout much.
  • The folks who work at the polls are magnificent. I wonder how smoothly they'll make the upcoming transition to electronic voting machines. 
  • Polls are open until 8:00 p.m. I'll post returns here as soon as I can, sometime after 9:00 p.m., probably around 11:00 p.m.
  • I had substantive telephone conversations with both mayoral candidates yesterday. I was grateful for their willingness to take time answering some questions I had e-mailed them, and for their candor. I suppose it helped that it was all off the record; I traded my freedom to report what they said here for the added candor of their speaking off the record. (In case you're wondering, there weren't any great revelations. When those chats were over, I still hadn't decided how to vote.)
  • If you tried to reach this site last evening or early this morning, chances are you failed. There were some difficulties over the weekend, too. I am told that AFCNet was switching from using Provo's bandwidth to connect to the Internet backbone, to a more direct connection. In the long run, it's a good thing. But I was sorely tempted to chew on the ISP guy whom told me this yesterday morning when I called, because no notice was given of the changes and the possible (nearly certain) temporary disruption. I also host my wife's campaign Web site, and we really didn't want that one going offline the night before the election. Given 48 hours' warning, we'd have moved the site to avoid that. As it happened, last night there were some difficulties on my LAN, too. I had to replace a router and solve another little problem. By this morning, things were working again, including my Internet connection and, therefore, the Web sites. (We don't host Heidi's blog; it never went down.)
  • UTWire sent out an e-mail endorsing Heidi Rodeback and Shirl LeBaron as the two candidates who most strongly support the City's broadband system. Based on the many candidate statements I've heard, that is a correct assessment of the situation. I understand that the endorsement was UTWire's idea, not a candidate's.
  • Yet another mailer from Councilman and mayoral candidate Shirl LeBaron arrived in the mailbox yesterday. His must be a well-funded campaign. (That's the best kind. I've tried the other kind, too.) I thought the piece overstated the differences between the two candidates, but that's politics. I was interested to note that it identified downtown revitalization as a "special interest" and recreation as a "program"; that's politics, too. I don't think it was as strong (in the positive sense) as the previous one.
  • I'm not crazy about automated get-out-the-vote messages, or even the actual human kind. Mayoral candidate Heber Thompson had some of the former going early last evening. But I am not a good test case, anyway. I don't need the reminder; I'm not likely to forget to vote. In fact, sometimes Election Day falls on my birthday, and, when it does, I'm more likely to forget it's my birthday than I am to forget to vote.  

Here are those thoughts. At least, they started out as thoughts.


Issues themselves are not special interests. (I'll spare you the logical explanation, but I also checked three dictionaries, just for the fun of it.) Groups which advocate or lobby for specific policies or in narrow policy areas are special interests. So the Parks and Recreation Commitee, though an official City entity, might be considered a special interest, but that doesn't mean that improving our parks and recreation facilities and programs is a special interest, or that Councilman LeBaron is a special interest candidate because he is such an effective advocate for them. Downtown American Fork, Inc., could be considered a special interest, but that doesn't mean that candidates who participate in that organization are special interest candidates. If LeBaron were running on a promise to do as little as possible about everything else and to focus on parks and recreation, he would be a special interest candidate. If Thompson were running on a promise to ignore every other interest and obligation as much as possible, and focus on a sparkling downtown, he would be a special interest candidate.

Neither of the candidates is doing that sort thing; they both have much broader, saner platforms. That's good. We don't want special interest candidates governing us, or candidates who are unduly under the sway of some special interest. We want them to weigh many interests and act for the welfare of the whole city. Assuming his declarations to be sincere (always shaky ground in campaign season, with virtually any candidate, but it's more fun than assuming they're not), LeBaron is genuinely concerned that Thompson's intended pursuit of a better downtown will be bad for the rest of the city. I think he's misreading his opponent and the importance of downtown. Then again, I essentially live downtown, so I suppose I have my biases, too.


In any case, more than many voters I know, I am willing to cut a candidate some slack if he goes a bit overboard in the process of trying to highlight the differences between himself and his opponent. I'll also allow for passion to overcome good sense from time to time, even in print. I will even make some allowance for political candidates acting like politicians sometimes, dancing around issues rather than standing firmly, making promises they shouldn't make (no personnel changes, really?), garbling their messages on occasion, and even coming across sometimes as a bit too slick. But, my allowances notwithstanding, all of these things have a political cost. It's a bit of black magic (or good polling, if you have the time and cash) identifying the line beyond which these tactics begin to offend more voters than they attract. I can tell you where that line is for me as a voter; its location is somewhat different for my wife and many others I know. It's different from one community to another, too.

In case you're wondering, some things are clearly over even my line. Thursday's full-page attack on Terry Fox would cross my line with any candidate, whether I supported or opposed that candidate. Personally, I can forgive Councilman Storrs in the sense that I'll say hello and shake his hand and wish him well and feel sorry for an otherwise nice man who has done someone so stupid in so public a way. (At least he admitted his role. Others haven't admitted theirs.) But, politically, I will never vote for him again, given any decent alternative, or be inclined rely on his support for any political matter of importance to me.

In another setting, however, asking at least some of those questions would have been in-bounds, in my view. If there were questions which needed to be asked publicly, they should have been asked at the beginning of the campaign, when they, the answers, and the motives of the various parties could be examined. If there is any actual evidence of misconduct, it should have been presented early on, so that exculpatory evidence could also be fairly considered. That's political.

As it is, no evidence has been presented to the public at all, and the attack was clearly timed to destroy, not to inform. That's not political. That's despicable, malevolent, and unmistakably contrary to the interest of good government.

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