Dateline: USA. News reports coming from every state confirm long lines of peaceful and patient voters. As I write this, we don’t know the results. As you read this, we will. You can bet the world is watching. They want to know who our next president will be as much as we do. The first winner of this day will be democracy herself and that win comes from our turning out to vote in impressive numbers.
Dateline: Santa Monica. Our own Santa Monica elections are down ballot. At the Santa Monica Shores, just as at polling places around the country, neighbors and friends greeted each other. Poll workers remembered many voters from previous elections. There was a young woman who was voting for the first time. She was excited and wanted to make sure she marked her ballot correctly. She wanted her vote to count.
Prop T is definitely down ballot. And, no, the world is not watching. But it is important to Santa Monica. Now the proponents said a vote for T was a vote against traffic and the opponents said a vote for T was a vote against schools and housing. After reading the arguments, it seemed clear to me that Prop T didn’t solve our traffic problems and didn’t hurt our school children or our renters. So what gives?
Here’s where it gets interesting. We’re a small town of 80,000 some people. Our population grows everyday because of the people who come here to work, to play, to shop, to eat. On hot summer Sundays we can have as many as 500,000 people at the beach. So, yes, traffic is a huge problem. And that, I think, is why Prop T got on the ballot and, if it wins, why it won.
We can’t make traffic congestion go away by arbitrarily slowing development. But there are ways to make big decreases in traffic problems. Our elected and appointed officials and City staff and our wonderfully active and involved citizens need to work together to implement smart and fun and easy ways to get around town. It’s possible. We know how to do it. Let’s do it. Let’s show that democracy works down ballot and up ballot.
I hope Senator Obama becomes President-elect Obama with a double-digit win and I hope that, by next summer, those 500,000 people at the beach will have great things to say about getting around Santa Monica as well as having a great day at the beach.