Unfortunate results of election procedures
Oct 16, 2013 | 851 views | 0 0 comments | 194 194 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few months ago, our local school trustees were forced into a position where they felt compelled to change the election procedure for board members. Either change it or face an expensive lawsuit.

Now we are experiencing the unfortunate results of the change.

For over 25 years, our seven trustees had been elected at-large from throughout the district.

Their terms were for four alternating years, four elected at one time and three others two years later.

Pressure (you could call it a threat) came from a county Latino organization, which claimed that minorities were disenfranchised by the at-large voting. Instead, the Patterson district and others in the county were urged to change their voting standards by areas – or be prepared to go to court.

So our sprawling school district was carved up into seven areas. To seek a board seat, candidates now have to reside in the area in which the term expires.

But the Patterson Unified School District elections traditionally have not drawn many candidates. Only when local issues heated the political atmosphere have we had spirited campaigning.

For instance, when four terms were expiring, it was not unusual to have only five or six candidates – and maybe four of those would be incumbents seeking re-election.

Our next school board election would have been in early November. Three terms are expiring and all three incumbents filed for re-election. There were no challengers, and thus the term “walk-over” is used. The three incumbents are automatically re-elected. None of their names will appear on the ballot.

Giving it some thought, one can conclude that the election by areas definitely favors the incumbents. Under the previous at-large procedure, a challenger could seek the position every two years and run against all incumbents on the ballot. Now it’s necessary to wait four years.

As is the situation, this upcoming walk-over election, I predict we will see fewer local residents choosing to serve their community on the school board. I’m uncertain how this situation could have been avoided, but find it disturbingly unfortunate.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Our federal government announced last week that it is cutting our military aid to Egypt because of the brutal crackdown in that country.

Here’s a unique thought:

Why don’t we just eliminate military aid to all countries? Let them battle with the armament they presently have. There’s already enough weaponry on this planet to completely annihilate every living thing. Why are we supplying more?

Just think: We could apply our military aid funding to other countries to the reopening of our national parks. Maybe even open some new ones. So simple a solution.

But wait! It would require an affirmative vote of Congress. Ain’t likely to happen.

THE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN

West Siders Coleen Sanguinetti and Sue Henderson have just returned from a pleasure trip to France – but couldn’t see all the sites on their agenda. They were closed because of our government’s park shutdown, such as the Normandy Beaches U.S. Museum and Cemetery. You’d never think that our shut down here would affect other countries as well.

And then there’s the National Nature Preserve along the San Joaquin River southeast of Vernalis — only about a dozen miles from Patterson. Few locals have ever checked it out, but local Boy Scouts have used it for interesting day hikes and its several miles of trails.

The preserve has no resident staff – only a small parking area, simple restrooms, and several picnic tables restricted to daytime use. And yet, when the Scouts arrived last Saturday morning, the gate was locked, barricades were up, and a sign indicated the federal closure had hit close to home. Bummer.

TIME IS A-FLYING

The good news is that Patterson MAY have a community calendar for 2014.

The bad news is that only three sets of dates have been received from the 52 local organizations, schools, the Apricot Fiesta, and churches. That trio is the Federated Church, Patterson High School and the Rotary Club.

You can’t beat the price. The listing of dates, as many as you want, is free. Thus, the Boy Scouts who are undertaking this big project are anxiously waiting for replies to their paperwork. Their deadline is Nov. 1 – two weeks from today.

Anyone needing forms should give me a call. I’m in the book. Yes, under S.

BRIGHT IDEA

A reader responding to my suggestion last week that those wanting to form a third political party line up from Patterson to Westley came up with this idea:

Why not start the line in Westley back toward Patterson so that some of us wouldn’t have so far to travel.

There are some real thinkers out there.

FOR THE SPORTS FAN

When the Cardinals and Dodgers played 13 innings late last week, I was convinced from the 11th frame on that St. Louis was going to pull it out. That’s when I noticed that in the Dodgers’ dugout, they had run out of sunflower seeds.

And when will we be getting electronic umpires to call balls and strikes? Not soon, I suppose. Probably not in my lifetime. But I’ll bet it happens someday.

With its elegantly renovated stadium to pay for, I don’t suppose Cal alums would allow its football program to be shut down. So the agony will continue.

Apparently the Raiders don’t have a 3rd-and-48 in their playbook.

Fans got their money’s worth last Saturday when Massachusetts Maritime beat Western Connecticut 54-53 in a game that was closer than the score indicates.

AND FINALLY …

More woes in the job market. Here’s the latest from our readers:

“I became a professional fisherman but found I couldn’t live on my net income.”

“I got a job with a pool maintenance company but found the work too draining.”

Keep sending ‘em.

N Ron Swift is the editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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