By Mike Rawlins, CCDP Chair.
With another odd-year non-partisan election almost behind us, we first want to thank everyone who stepped up to run. It’s a significant commitment of time, energy, and often money, and we appreciate the passion for public service that led you to take the step.
Though not as many Democrats won as we would have liked, we continue the shift from a deep red to a purple county. The reactionary crowd was mostly beaten back in Plano. Progressive and moderate candidates made progress in other cities. There will be good candidates in runoffs in Plano, Richardson, and for Dallas mayor. As we head in to the runoffs, as a county party we will continue to assess how to best assist Democrats who wish our help in these non-partisan races.
Which Candidates Did Better?
I don’t see many clear, across the board trends in the preliminary results other than what conventional campaign wisdom suggests. With few exceptions, regardless of political leanings the candidates who campaigned the longest, hardest, and best had the better results. And those who entered late with weak campaigns generally did worse.
Voter Turnout Was Low
The more disappointing aspect of the elections was voter turnout. As a whole, Collin County came in at just over 10% of registered voters and Dallas County came in at just under 10% of registered voters. The turnout in selected Collin County cities was:
•Anna 3.4% (lowest)
• Frisco 9.3%
• Fairview 33.9% (highest)
• McKinney 6.9%
• Plano 13.3%
If we are to truly make our governments “of the people, by the people, and for the people” we have to do better. Like nature, power abhors a vacuum. Those who are willing to step up and fill it – regardless of how small their numbers may be – will be the ones who take it if no one else does.
Those Who Vote Set the Future
The tiny number of people who consistently vote in our nonpartisan elections are the ones who set the future of our cities and local schools. And people who are not content to simply vote, but also work on a campaign or even run have larger impacts. And the minuscule number who will do the long preparation of building social networks and a base of support before running are most likely to ultimately win the right to exercise power. We need to make sure that those people aren’t reactionaries who want to take us backward, but progressives who want to move us forward.
Vote in Upcoming Runoffs
In the very short term there are good candidates in the runoff elections who need your help. Please watch our newsletters, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and web site for more information. And mark Saturday, June 8 on your calendars and be sure to vote! Early voting will run Tuesday, May 28 through Tuesday, June 4.
Consider Serving in Local Government
In the longer term, someone is going to run local government. Why not you, and why not us? All it takes is for enough of us to get involved. Show up at City Council and School Board meetings. Talk with your council and board members. Volunteer for boards and commissions. Start infiltrating the social networks of the current power brokers, or build your own competing networks.
As has been said, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Let’s be the ones carving the turkey and passing along the mashed potatoes – not the ones groveling for the scraps.