The Fun Vote

The fun vote: To the people who care--chiefly Dallas officeholders and the people who own them--the vote on the city's strong-mayor initiative is the Most Important Issue in democracy since 1776. To everyone else in the city? Eh, not so much.

After the first four days of early voting, Dallas County elections administrator Bruce Sherbet says around 15,000 people have voted countywide, a number that includes suburbs. In Dallas, Sherbet estimates, turnout will run slightly higher than normal for a municipal election. "Pretty much what I'm seeing right now, the turnout is elevated, but nothing significant," he says. That would put it at 12 percent to 13 percent, compared with 8 percent to 10 percent in a typical city election. "I might be surprised, but the indicators don't show it."

As a Very Important vote goes, that's not impressive. Turnout for the balloting to finance the American Airlines Center in 1998 was about 21 percent of registered voters, according to news reports. We suppose that means arenas are more important to voters than the basic structure of city government--tsk, tsk. How shallow Dallas voters are.

But are they really? Ask yourself this: How much real difference does it make to you whether an elected mayor or an appointed city manager is the Big Kahuna at City Hall? Probably not much.

Buzz bases the statement on the time-tested journalistic practice of taking one voter's experience--ours--and extrapolating. See, Buzz, and we bet most of you, expects very little from City Hall. There's cheap, clean water--got that. Regular garbage pickup--got that, too. Fewer potholes--could do better, but that takes money, asphalt and labor, and we doubt the strong mayor is going to be hefting a shovel. In the past few months, Buzz's gas line was repaired, and the city code inspector came right out. The cops didn't catch whoever burglarized our home, but we doubt an empowered Mayor Laura Miller will either.

Does this mean Buzz is advocating voter apathy? Of course not. You should certainly vote, and vote "yes." Why? Entertainment value. Making Miller "boss" would rival the thrill of running the bulls at Pamplona, which we imagine is very exciting to watch.

For the poor fools who get gored? Eh, not so much. But then, who cares about them?

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams