Fresh Ideas: Now the hard work for Nevada’s future begins
November 5, 2014
Let's face it: politics has winners and losers, and today we know which are which. Election results can be as thrilling or crushing as a fourth grade 100-yard dash for candidates and supporters.
Each of us as voters (or non-voters) contributed to the final outcome. We have affirmed, declined or realigned who represents us on the school board, in City Hall, and at the state legislature.
The well-worn adage democracy is not a spectator sport seems frayed after barrages of venomous campaign ads and accusations. But our work as voters is just beginning. Representative government is most effective with citizen involvement. We have selected a person to represent us, but he or she now represents all of us, not just supporters or contributors. It's our job to speak up, to hold our elected officials accountable and resist the gravitational pull toward cynicism and apathy. But how?
Consider the advice of the late Anita Roddick, entrepreneur and activist: "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito." How about a swarm of mosquitoes?
Regardless of party or ideological tilt, continued citizen engagement is essential for elected officials to do their jobs. Show up at a school board meeting (kids in tow) and tell the board how it's going at school, during public comment. Get on the board's email list to monitor what the board is considering at their bimonthly meetings.
With the election over, it will be up to the Board of Supervisors, with broad-based public involvement, to provide leadership and vision for our City. The Board must prepare for the projected growth, development surges and diversification opportunities stimulated by the Tesla deal. Will the capital city be ready to provide and sustain the physical, cultural and recreational facilities and amenities that serve existing residents and attract families and visitors?
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At the state legislature, Carson City's assemblyman is new to the job, and should welcome concerns, suggestions and bill draft requests from constituents, whether or not we voted for him.
During the spirited debates over Statewide Question 3, the Education Initiative or Margins Tax, business leaders and politicians made vague promises to improve education. Regardless of the fate of Question 3, the 2015 legislative session will be the arena for tackling immediate funding of public education. With Nevada's "dead last" education ranking for the past three years, it's up to voters, as parents, grandparents and Nevadans, to demand reform — to be the mosquitoes. I'd even support a lottery for education. How about it, business leaders, casino moguls and legislators? Without sustained funding and systemic reform, Nevada's dismal rankings will continue to impede its potential for greatness.
The wonderful 150th statehood celebration is over. Now the hard work for Nevada's future begins — for elected officials, voters … and mosquitoes.
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.