David Schmalz here, thinking about democracy and the importance of elections– they ultimately shape the society we live in, for better or for worse.
And although this is true on all levels, it can sometimes be hard to believe that your vote counts in national or regional elections. Locally, however, it is easy to see the impact.
On June 24, Monterey County Elections certified the results of the June 7 primary electionand some of the races were decided by remarkably thin margins.
Among them was measure B in Del Rey Oaks, a city with just 1,216 registered voters. The ballot initiative, which was introduced by resident Tom Rivelli last fall, sought to exclude any new trails or paths in the city except on Highway 218 General Jim Moore Boulevard. and South Boundary Road.
The measure would have effectively killed the 1.5-mile Del Rey Oaks segment of the 28-mile project Fort Ord Regional Trail and Greenwayas the segment is planned to cross parks and residential streets.
But the measure failed at the polls with 387 votes for yes and 399 votes for no– a difference of only 12 votes. (Notably, the turnout for the measure was nearly 66%, more than double the countywide turnout of 31%.)
In conversations with Rivelli after bringing the initiativee, he stressed that the main thing he wanted was for voters in Del Rey Oaks to be able to decide if they want this FORTAG segment, which is the first funded segment of the proposed regional network of bike and pedestrian paths. Voters in Del Rey Oaks have now answered that question. And now? What is the upcoming schedule?
Todd Muck, executive director of the Monterey County Transportation Agencywhich is the lead agency for FORTAG, indicates that work is still underway in the final design phase of the segment, and that TAMC will appear before the Del Rey Oaks City Council later this summer to provide an update on these designs. and receive feedback from council and the public on various visual elements, and he expects the project to be put out to competition next spring.
Waitingthe agency is also working on an agreement for future maintenance and responsibilities for the trail, which will ultimately need to be approved by city council.
But with Measure B narrowly defeated, perhaps the biggest hurdle has just been cleared.. “We are thrilled that the majority of Del Rey Oaks voters support the project,” Muck said. “I think we have a fantastic project, and we can’t wait to get it built for the public to enjoy.”
Council member Kim Shirley, who helped lead the No on B campaign, and who abstained from voting on the FORTAG questions because she lives within 500 feet of the proposed segment, is thrilled with the results. But she’s also acutely aware that nearly half of Del Rey Oaks voters are likely disappointed with the outcome. She says she hopes better communication from the city can help her residents rally around her.
This highlights a fundamental aspect of democracy and the life: You don’t always get what you want.
The result also clearly shows that every vote counts. And while voting is a right in America, it’s also a privilege. There’s no good reason not to – voting changes the world.
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