It has been said many times and, indeed, elections have consequences.
Saturday’s elections proved once again that a low turn-out can allow a small percentage of voters to determine the outcome. My Dad was a Marine and he always impressed upon me that those in the armed forces were there to be sure all Americans could have freedom. It was our patriotic duty to vote.
I grew up in Selma, Ala., and watched how black folks struggled to get the right to vote. The violence of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 was when the nation finally had enough and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. A then 23-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the bridge and went on to become a symbol of Voting Rights during his long service in Congress.
Last week, Veterans Day was celebrated. Those who gave their lives and were injured for us should be held in the highest esteem. Voting honors them. That’s why it’s disappointing that only about 13 percent of Louisiana voters cast their ballots last Saturday. In Calcasieu, about 18 percent voted for the amendments and about 21 percent voted in the special state senate election.
It’s not good news from the Chamber SWLA standpoint that Amendments 1, 3, and 4 were defeated. These issues are complex and hard to explain in a brief description on the ballot. The language on the ballots is not always clear and some are even deceptive. With the huge distrust of elected officials in our nation today, it’s no wonder reform measures are easily sabotaged.
With amendment 1, the state of Louisiana missed an opportunity to bring our state in line with 48 other states for centralized sales tax collections. The only amendment to pass, amendment 2, will begin the process of reforming our state income tax levels by reducing taxes and making the state more competitive. This is a major accomplishment.
Congratulations are in order to Jeremy Stine who had an impressive win over Dustin Granger and Jake Shaheen to fill the vacancy in the District 27 State Senate seat vacated by Ronnie Johns who resigned to become chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Commission. It was encouraging to have three candidates step up and make the race. We hope other newcomers will begin to think about getting involved in future elections. Competition is good and brings out the best in all of us.
No one likes change. The “philosopher” Maxine says: “I’m for change as long as I don’t have to do anything different.” That about sums it up. However, as we continue our recovery and look to the future with initiatives that will improve the quality of life for our residents, we in SWLA will need to make changes.
Recovery issues, lack of affordable housing, low education levels, and high poverty rates are just some of the major issues to be addressed and solved. Otherwise, we decline. If we want to have a region where our children and grandchildren will want to live and raise their families, change is necessary. You can have input into those changes. Tonight at 6 p.m. in the Buccaneer Room at The Lake Charles Civic Center and tomorrow at 5 p.m. at The Grand Lake High School Cafeteria in Grand Lake you can express your views for “Just Imagine SWLA,” a long-term planning effort conducted by the Community Foundation of SWLA. There will be other opportunities for your input.
If we truly want a region where our next generations will want to live, it is necessary for us to commit to do things now that might not make sense to those of us here now, but will be needed for the future.