Hope, like the sun, encourages life and yet, in unhealthy heavy doses, burns many! It is conceded that some optimism is always healthy for the soul, but one must also remember that disappointment comes with any unmet expectation.
That possibly very poor little analogy is about as succinct as I can be in describing my feelings surrounding the results of this election for the City of Orem.
There are positives, but overall, I seem to be sustained with lower levels of disappointment in humanity’s current political dispositions. Yet, I will attempt to approach the results in as positive and practical a mindset as possible, always looking forward to the political battleground of which we will be associating.
Here are last nights results as found currently on orem.org –
(These numbers will slightly change on November 17 once all of the provisional ballots are counted)
Mayoral Race –
Richard Brunst – 6,770
Chris Nichols – 5,784
City Council Race –
Tom MacDonald – 7,552
Brent Sumner – 5,943
David Spencer – 5,896
Mary Street – 5,610
Sharon Price Anderson – 5,039
Wayne Burr – 4,888
CARE Tax Renewal –
Yes – 7,856
No – 4,593
Property Tax Increase
Against – 8,628
For – 3,787
So, as is apparent, out of the two people I fully endorsed and the two tax proposals, my overall scorecard was 1/4. This is admittedly very low given the 2/4 score shared by the Citizens for a “Prosperous” Orem (who supported Nichols, Macdonald, Sumner, and Street) and the Citizens for a Fiscally-Sound Orem (who supported Brunst, Burr, Spencer, and Anderson). In fact, one may even think that the group Standing for Orem included Tom “McDonald” in the list of endorsements (with Brunst, Burr, Spencer, and Andersen) merely to win in outscoring the others 3/5.
Now, without even addressing the issue of tragically low turnout at the polls, here are some thoughts on this very important local election.
On what may be the most positive note of the night, it is great to see so many people reject the property tax increase! It truly was a bigger margin of victory than even my most optimistic side was expecting, especially given the dubious wording on the ballot itself (e.g. “municipal operations” as opposed to UTOPIA).
Maybe one day, instead of having a debate about the amount of property tax, we could have a debate about whether or not such a tax should even exist. Were the Founding Fathers’ wrong, in principle, with their Constitutional prohibition of “direct” taxes as found in the U.S. Constitution as applicable to the federal government? Or do direct taxes magically become appropriate when done by more local expropriators? Yet, as Richard Brunst has clearly shown with his analysis of the budget, the tax increase is certainly unnecessary, even assuming “validity” to the tax itself.
Yet, although there is good news on the rejection of the property tax increase, it is perplexing to see how this same electorate voted when it came to the council candidates. How could these same electors turn around and vote in the incumbent Brent Sumner? Sumner was not only one who originally voted for the tax increase on the council, but he didn’t even sign or support the very referendum that allowed the voting electorate to even have a choice in the matter at all. This would also pretty much apply to Tom Macdonald, who politically dodged the question of support for the property tax increase, whilst using rhetoric that implies the supposed “need” for the increase. One would think that a measure that was so overwhelmingly shot down would simultaneously reflect in the votes for city council itself…and yet that simply wasn’t the case.
Perhaps the attempt to force the change in the wording by Wayne Burr (and others) in the courts (even the Supreme Court) brought enough attention to the controversy to work toward a victory even in the face of the attempt being unsuccessful. In other words, perhaps the “loss” at the Supreme Court ironically helped to lead toward a victory at the ballot box. It, at least, did bring media attention to the issue of the ballot wording. (i.g. Daily Herald, Salt Lake Tribune)
The voting turnout for Wayne Burr and Sharon Anderson was very disappointing. In fact, it was also very perplexing given the nature of the overwhelming defeat of the property tax increase. For such a huge victory on the referendum, there was a troubling irony in having two candidates that seemed like two of the most key players in promoting the referendum (Burr/Andersen) having the least amount of votes for the council. Not only that, but they were two very vocal candidates against the property tax increase. The sign in my yard against the Property Tax Increase and the CARE Tax, (which just so happened to be stolen from my yard along with Wayne and Sharon’s signs the night before Halloween) was offered to me and even brought to me by Wayne Burr himself!
Now, all that being said, it is not my intent to take away from the fact that Richard Brunst and David Spencer were both elected, while being against the increase. Yet, once the topic shifts to the CARE Tax, it becomes more clear who was more consistent on the issue of taxation and the proper role of government. Richard Brunst seemed almost reluctantly opposed to the CARE renewal (focusing mostly on the application of the money rather than the moral issue underlying the tax itself), while David Spencer was, in fact, in support of the CARE Tax. Sharon and Wayne were both vocally opposed to the CARE Tax.
The CARE Tax results were very disappointing. It once again is a real life example of how little the general populace understands the proper role of government. It is yet another example of a rejection of the Rule of Law in favor of the “Rule of Man“. The renewal was a promotion of the nation-destroying concepts of democracy as opposed to the founding principles of republicanism.
You would think that some might be able to recognize the irony in championing “consent of the governed”, which is assumed with any vote-based ballot initiative, while taxing everyone based on the decision of a majority of people who happened to vote on a measure. Note: Not even a majority of the people…A majority of the voting electorate. (The low percentages of voting turnout add even more weight to this point). Yet, it is not as if the people who actively voted against the measure will be spared the forced taxation of their money, to say nothing of the involuntary transfer payments that will come as a result, following the accumulation of tax monies. What about their consent?
In closing, it would be appropriate to acknowledge the positive aspects of a Chris Nichols loss and a Richard Brunst victory. It was amazing to see Brunst’s victory given the incredible monetary and public push given to the Nichols campaign from many directions, including the sitting council and mayor (excepting Hans Andersen, of course). A similar attitude goes toward David Spencer’s slim victory over Mary Street.
Although Richard Brunst and David Spencer do not actively champion the principles of good government as much as I would like to see, they certainly are a potential change in direction as far as City of Orem “establishment” politics is concerned. That is why, although I do not consider it a victory per se, there are positive aspects I will consider. In fact, Richard Brunst does certainly seem to have fiscal responsibility truly in mind, especially when it comes to UTOPIA. Even as a bare minimum, I see Richard Brunst and David Spencer as people who the freedom minded people could work with, while with Chris Nichols and Mary Street would predictably feed us a cold shoulder and a closed mind.
The Brunst/Spencer election is a potential chance for positive change in direction, as opposed to an all out loss, which would certainly have been experienced with a Nichols/Street election. Richard Brunst and David Spencer have not been running on a campaign that is obviously “business-as-usual,” and have been speaking of changing the fiscal direction of the city. Where that direction might lead is what time will tell, and hopefully many freedom-minded people will influence. I am definitely looking forward to at least watching for a change in tone with Brunst as mayor, as opposed to Mayor Evans, the apparent yes-man and open supporter, endorser, and even promoter of Chris Nichols.
In fact, it will be interesting to watch the UTOPIA issue play out on the council following the property tax increase being rejected along with Hans Andersen, Richard Brunst, and David Spencer all being opposed to it. Sure, it is still not a majority of the council, but 3-4 certainly puts more pressure on the issue than 6-1. Maybe even more so when one of those “no” votes is the mayor himself.
Now, as hopefully is apparent, and what is true regardless of results, the ballot box is not the end of the battle. It is only the beginning. Let the battle begin….again…
Because, ultimately, it is entirely up to us.