Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Vote or die!

This is it. Today, we decide (again) the direction not only of our country, but of our states, cities and local schools.

I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago, and she said that she's really only interested in voting for President, not for offices lower than that. The Presidential election in 2000 was amazingly close, but the two candidates were separated by about 500,000 votes. In local elections, every single vote truly does matter. During the same year, the first place finisher in the at-large County Council race finished with fewer than 100 more votes than the fourth place finisher. Two years ago, Mike Sodrel won his race for Congress by fewer than 1,500 votes.

In short, it is more important to vote in local elections than to vote for President. Local government affects your life more directly than the federal government does. If you want to build a new home or start a small business, local planning and zoning will determine whether you have the ability to do so. Local government determines infrastructure, and even regulates how you are to keep your pets.

I have several friends on the local ballot this year. There are many candidates whom I cannot recommend highly enough. Two of them are MCCSC School Board candidate Mike Bissey and Monroe County Council candidate Jim Billingsley.

I first met Jim Billinglsey in 1999, when I went to work for the Monroe County Taxpayers Association. We made quite a splash with our Fire Safety Commission, and many of MCTA's recommendations were implemented that summer in a plan put forth by Mayor Fernandez. While we were accused of "partisanship", MCTA's focus on the issues contributed a great deal to the safety of everyone in Bloomington.

Jim Billingsley is a soft-spoken and humble man. In 2000, Jim ran for Surveyor, but dropped out of the race and put his own personal interests aside because he believed that Vic Farkas was a stronger candidate. That gesture was one of the most honorable things I have ever seen in over a decade of political activism. Two years later, Jim ran as a Libertarian for State Representative when the Republican candidate was a solid Leftist. I am proud to say I voted for Billingsley that year.

Don't think that Jim wavers at all from his principles, however. Jim is a strong fiscal conservative who puts principle above party. He understands that property taxes are burdensome, and he understands that every dollar confiscated from taxpayers must be spent wisely and prudently. Save for Marty Hawk, there is no one who would be a more effective watchdog over the county budget than Jim Billingsley.

Jim also worked diligently for the defeat of the $6.88 million MCCSC tax increase referendum in 1999. In part due to his efforts, this unnecessary permanent excess levy went down in flames when the voters cast a resounding "NO" vote against higher taxes.

I met Mike Bissey a year and a half ago when we were both opposing the MCCSC "sex survey". I was impressed by his ability to be passionate about his beliefs and maintain civility toward his opponents. Mike is running for School Board because he is a parent of children in the MCCSC system, and wants to make MCCSC the best it can be for all children in the district. Following is a letter to the editor I wrote supporting Mike:

Bissey supported for MCCSC

To the editor:

There are many critical races on the ballot this fall, and we should all go vote. I urge my fellow citizens to pay particular attention to the nonpartisan election for MCCSC school board. This race is as important as any on the ballot, because ensuring that Monroe County children get a good education is essential for the future health of our constitutional republic.

On Nov. 7, I will be enthusiastically voting for Mike Bissey for MCCSC school board. I first met Bissey a year and a half ago when he was campaigning against MCCSC's plans to conduct sex survey and the dishonest "passive consent" system for that survey. I believe the sex survey controversy is indicative of an arrogance that is not appropriate for elected officials, especially a school board.

After having known Mike Bissey for over a year, I am convinced that he will respectfully listen to the concerns of all parents and citizens living in the MCCSC school district. One of his many good ideas is to encourage more parental involvement, because no matter how good a teacher is, that teacher needs the help of parents when the child goes home.

Vote for Mike Bissey on Nov. 7.

Scott Tibbs