Amendment victory due to poor turnout

Two things stood out from Saturday’s election.

First, never doubt the effectiveness of a small, but determined, group of people seeking change. Combine that with flat-out apathy from the majority of local, eligible voters, and change is given (though without much “cents”).

Second, don’t doubt that unintended consequences will occur from the passing (by 25 votes) of the first-ever amendment to the city charter. Calling elections every time the city needs to transfer funds to keep business running smoothly will be cumbersome and expensive, and numb voters’ interest in municipal dealings.

While lawyers will now interpret what this new burden will mean to city staff, rest assured it will cause some administrative heartburn. Even the newly elected council members say as much.

To the city staff’s credit, they indicate they will simply “deal with it.” After a June council retreat, they will have a better idea how they will be forced to deal with these issues. Fortunately, no projects are “waiting” on funding that would require an immediate transfer.

The city listened to the concerns that were brought up by the amendment’s proponents. There have been no transfers from enterprise funds to the golf fund since new City Manager Kent Myers came on board, and the council instituted public hearings if and when transfers are ever needed.

But that didn’t satisfy the amendment’s proponents.

It is often said we get the government we deserve. And if not even 600 of us turned out to turn back this poorly thought-out amendment, then shame on us. There are north of 7,500 registered voters in Fredericksburg. Pro-amendment supporters were aggressive in their turnout, while most others were lackadaisical, thinking it had little chance of passing. This is another slap-in-the-face lesson in democracy.

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