Opinion: WeHo Residents Must Vote to Stir the Pot

Photo by Kristy Glave.
Photo by Kristy Glave.

“Two chickens in every pot!”

Thus began the sardonic rejoinder from New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as he responded to Herbert Hoover’s election promise during the 1928 presidential campaign. Just months prior to the start of the Great Depression of 1929, Hoover’s Republican platform heralded a time when there would be “ a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage.” LaGuardia, known as “The Little Flower” and a most popular Democrat, could not restrain himself and parodied Hoover (“The Great Engineer”) by saying “two chickens in every pot, two cars in every garage and two headaches for every aspirin.” Election year politics have always been a circus of wild ideas and colorful characters. So, hang on to your sense of equilibrium as we charge into the last few weeks of the 2016 election year, an election campaign like no other.

Carleton Cronin
Carleton Cronin

It arrived Monday, the 224-page official voter information guide – talk about impediments to voting. The cost to assemble, print and distribute this pile of paper, I’m told, is about $15 million. The Los Angeles Times published its list of ballot endorsements and the political ads on TV and the mailers begin to proliferate. Trump is condemning everybody within hearing and Clinton is working hard on the stump. Things are now getting pretty serious.

The referendum process is alive and well in California – or is it? Many voters feel that they really have a chance to participate in the process of developing laws by being able to place their mark on the ballot for or against a certain proposition. Others believe that the lads and ladies in Sacramento simply lack the will to get down in the pit and deliberate. Governing is a contact sport and some of our reps don’t want to expose themselves to the bumps and bruises, so they toss the questions out to the electorate. (Remember that word; “electorate” is a euphemism for YOU.)

There’s much emphasis on “getting out the vote”. Of course, our democracy depends upon citizens to vote in all elections. But, do they? Here are some numbers to help answer that question (based on the 2012 presidential election year figures from all sources):

A.U.S. citizens. –
1. Eligible to vote: 218,959,000
2.Registered to vote: 146,311,000
3.Actually voted: 126,144,000 – that’s only 57.5%!
(U.S. Census Bureau)

B. California citizens –
1. Eligible to vote: 23,713,000
2. Registered to vote: 17,156,000
3. Actually voted: 13,202,000 – that’s only 56%!
(Calif. Secretary of State)

C. West Hollywood citizens –
1. Eligible to vote: about 30,000
2. Registered to vote: 24,642
3. Actually voted: Presidential election: 19,320 – about 66%;
4. Council election – 4,830 – that’s an abysmal 14%!
(WEHO by the Numbers)

It appears that we don’t take our civic responsibility very seriously, and that babble I heard from the drill instructor in 1951 about fighting for the right to vote was a lot of hot air. Tell that to the families of people who died believing in that dictum. I believe that much of the reason for lax interest in politics is the lack of instruction in schools; family discussions and the feeling amongst many that their votes don’t matter.

Take a closer look at our local election turnout. Fourteen percent of the city’s population control what happens to our city, decides who gets to sit on the City Council. In our democracy that figure is ridiculously low – but you can bet that anyone on the council thinks it’s just fine. Must give the Council members a strong sense of control. Easy to handle the residents. Want to change that, gain more control for the residents? VOTE.

Another element of concern is that many voters are not truly informed about the candidates, the issues and the propositions they are asked to vote on. We are often asked to support items on the ballot with a “yes” which could actually mean “no” and vice versa. In-depth knowledge is often hard to come by because of the density of the subject – and our reps in the state capitol should be ashamed of themselves for throwing the questions out to the public, which they know will often misinterpret the facts. Referendums are powerful and can have the lasting effects of unintended consequences. Check out Prop 13 and the constant war between pro and con.

So, I guess I’ll go off into a well-lighted corner with my California Voter Guide and a nice wine – possibly a jar of Tums – and see what I can find out about the state of our state. Also, old Romeo, my pussycat pal, and I will have time to wonder in our philosophical fashion, just how some people get to be candidates for the President of the United States. The Presidential election this year has enormous significance for our democracy and for our status in the world. Missing the duty to vote is something you might regret for a long time.

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William Margold
3 years ago

Unless it wasn’t really urgent, I don’t usually respond to my own comment(s) until someone else has. But in the case of the egregious “Anti-Adult Entertainment” PROP 60..I think it would behoove THE PLEASURE CHEST to make themselves available to make sure that every West Hollywood voter gets to the polls on Tuesday Nov. 8. Because who knows what part of X Michael Weinstein will go after next! PROP 60
SUXXX
VOTE NO!

mike dunn
3 years ago

I was replying to Carleton Cronin last couple of sentences in his post.

Although we live in a so called liberal city who encourages us all to vote, the last election voting sites sure as hell did the opposite. Kings Rd. Park is far enough to travel from Olive Dr. and Fountain, but adjacent to the French Market Place not only discouraged seniors and disabled to vote and made it next to impossible since there is no MTA or City Bus bus stop there.

William Margold
3 years ago
Reply to  mike dunn

Perhaps some altruistic West Hollywoodians will look into renting a few passenger vans on Election Day and then make themselves available to go-around and pick up voters who are unable to get to their voting site(s).

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
3 years ago

Mr. Dunn, perhaps I missed something. Could you please explain what this has to do with whether our residents vote?

carleton cronin
carleton cronin
4 years ago

Normally, I would not visit the comments of any item of mine which has been published in order to respond to anyone. But, I had hoped to find something illuminating from some of the brighter lights who often comment on Wehoville.com OP-EDs. First, Larry Bloom is correct. The percentages I use have to do with the number of people voting against those who registered. That is what I intended. Not voting? Why bother to register? As for not living long enough in the city to be involved (even during and election year) is to simply ignore one’s civic duty here… Read more »

mike dunn
4 years ago

I’m a Viet Nam Veteran who didn’t avoid the draft using political connections as Bill Clinton did. And before someone makes a rude, uninformed comment, George Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard and volunteered to go to Viet Nam. Per his service record, he was a top notch fighter pilot who was called upon to train others and achieved the rank of Captain due to his expertise.

Larry Block
Larry Block
4 years ago

Stats are based on eligible to vote and not % of registered to vote voters who cast a ballot. So the end statistics are misleading. For instance, among the 146 million voters nationally registered to vote and 126 million who voted that is a good stat of 86%, not 57% as indicated. Similarly if we look at the registered to vote and actual vote totals in California that number jumps to 77%, not 56% and in West Hollywood the number is actually 25% of registered voters not 14%. As most of us know that 25% of ‘engaged’ West Hollywood residents… Read more »

PT
PT
4 years ago

I agree
“a low turnout is almost always a sign of (non)satisfaction with local government”
I disagree
“45% of our population does not plan on staying in West Hollywood for more than 3 to 5 years; you can’t expect those folks to be engaged in local politics on the same level as long term residents.”

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
4 years ago

Our numbers for general elections are high as we have a very progressive community. But staff has recently stated that 45% of our population does not plan on staying in West Hollywood for more than 3 to 5 years; you can’t expect those folks to be engaged in local politics on the same level as long term residents. As for numbers, 100% of the population in North Korea votes. I would rather have informed members of the electorate vote than people who are not particularly interested. When our City Council elections are in November you will find that coverage of… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
4 years ago

As a poli sci grad and subsequent follower of elections, I need to point out that in upscale educated communities like WeHo, a low turnout is almost always a sign of satisfaction with local government. It is easy to get agitated and unhappy local residents to vote even in an off year election if they are upset. Often this takes the form of one group not representing the majority turning out and defeating incumbents. It’s great that Wehoville provides a forun for dissatisfaction, but the reality is WeHo voters by all available real data are satisfied with their government. The… Read more »

fine7760
4 years ago

Voting in West Hollywood has become a real challenge. I live near Olive Dr. and Fountain and my voting site was on Kings Rd. at Kings Rd. Park which I had to drive to. But the last election presented a true challenge if I did not drive. I had to drive to Laurel Ave. My question is why the long distance, what happened to local voting places? The City Hall is closer but not a voting place. The theater across the street from city hall is owned by the city, why isn’t it a voting place? The Kings Rd. Parking… Read more »

Dan Morin
Dan Morin
4 years ago

Great article. A travesty so few WeHo residents vote. The apathy is appalling. Truly disheartening. It makes one wonder if it’s worth it. BTW – LaGuardia was, believe it or not, a Republican. A very progressive Republican.

Randy
Randy
4 years ago

It has been discussed before. The City of West Hollywood needs to move their election cycle to coincide with November elections. This, in itself, will increase voter turnout. It also might get city residents to pay better attention to who is representing them. One of the reasons for the “abysmal” turnout for city elections is that West Hollywood is a city with a large population who don’t expect to stick around very long. I think a lot of people who move here only expect to live here for a couple years, and are therefore not invested in the community in… Read more »

William Margold
4 years ago

Since it’s apparently “soapboxing” time…I would be doing my life and my legacy a tremendous disservice if I didn’t yammer: PROP 60 SUXXX and implore any and all who meander through this site to VOTE NO! on the vile, mean-spirited and mentally deranged measure.
as always…take care and care take.