One couldn’t help but be proud watching the presidential election Tuesday. Regardless of where you stand ideologically, seeing a country that once engaged in slavery and — all too recently — segregation actually elect a black man as president is awe-inspiring.
Our awe was inspired locally, as well.
The Irrigator endorsed Measure V in September, arguing that despite the economic difficulties we’re all facing, it was worth an increase in property taxes to fund construction of new buildings and modernization of old ones in our school system.
We figured that since property taxes had decreased thanks to the increased population in Patterson, it wouldn’t hurt much if they went back up a little. And with $25 million in state money in the offing — but only available if the local $50 million bond passed first — we thought it made sense to vote yes.
That doesn’t mean we expected it to pass. But it did. And it wasn’t even close.
Measure V couldn’t pass with a simple majority. It required 55 percent of the vote. And despite a nationwide economic crisis that’s been called the worst since the Great Depression and despite Patterson’s own foreclosure crisis, local voters approved Measure V in a major way.
In the end, more than 3,000 people voted in favor of Measure V — nearly a 2-to-1 margin over those against it. It’s safe to assume many of those 3,000 voters are going through some difficult times in their own homes. They’re struggling to put their kids through college, pay for health care, pay their mortgages and buy groceries.
Yet they were able to look beyond their own struggles and their neighbors’ struggles in support of our schools. They padded their property tax bills because it meant improved facilities for local students — their own kids and grandkids. While traditional investments are plummeting in value, they chose to invest in this city’s future.
In these troubled times, it was a remarkably selfless act.
Countywide, voters offered to pay an extra half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. Measure S received a nearly identical percentage of the vote as Measure V did, but it has a higher threshold to meet, needing two-thirds of the vote to pass.
As of Thursday, with some 30,000 vote-by-mail ballots still to be counted, it sat agonizingly close at 65.9 percent.
We’re hopeful it’ll get the votes required to pass. With such generosity going around, it would be a shame for such worthy projects to go unfunded.