My Turn. Voter turnout

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My Turn by Charles M. Kelly

We can improve voter turnout

Two years ago (that was 2015), I was upset that no once challenged the incumbent candidates for Paramount City Council.

This year, I had no cause for complaints. Two incumbents faced two challengers and one of each pair took the top two slots.

Two years ago, I was revolted that 4.7 percent of Paramount voters bothered to cast votes in the uncontested 2015 City Council election. The voters approved a local tax increase—in no small part because so very few people bothered to vote at all.

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, there are 22,538 registered voters in Paramount.

A certain out of town publication that I won’t name pointed out the low numbers of this year’s election, but failed to pick up on the fact that Paramount has historically low voter turnout. How low?

2017 City Council challenger (and apparently top vote getter) Laurie Guillen actually drew more votes than cast ballots on the 2015 tax increase. Paramount residents can and should do better. The tired cliche is true: if you don’t study politics, politics will study you—and that’s sometimes as bad as being studied by a ravenous shark.

Here are some of my suggestions for fixing the problem of low voter turnout and unsatisfying government. First, citizens:

  • Tell your representatives what you want. They can’t read minds, don’t ask them to.
  • Attend City Council meetings when you can.
  • Follow the news or visit the city website, but study politics.

Second, city officials:

  • Invite high school kids to attend council meetings to see our representative government in action.
  • Have elections in even-numbered years.
  • Put entire City Council meetings online. Live steam them and store the videos on the city website.
Charles M. Kelly is the editor of the Paramount Journal. Please send your comments about this issue (or any other) to you to ckelly@localnewspapers.org.  The word limit is 600 words. Please include contact information. The Paramount Journal reserves the right to edit all submissions.

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