Note from the author: Hello and thanks for visiting Stars and Gripes! I would like to thank the Long Beach Post staff for offering me this opportunity to participate once again as a regular columnist here.

Two topics–Public Policy and Law Enforcement–will be the main focus of this column. I will try to provide information to my readers that is based as far as possible in provable facts and clearly cited sources and will offer suggestions and respectful opinions in the same manner. Although I will sometimes present information of both national and statewide interest, I will always do so in the context of relevance to Long Beach and how those topics influence the city and its residents, businesses, and visitors.

Like Long Beach Post, itself, I strongly believe in the value of vigorous, respectful, and courteous discussion and debate. So as I offer my information and perspectives I encourage readers to engage with me and with one another in the comments section of each column. I will do my best to be responsive to all constructive comments, asking only that participants remain respectful and courteous.

First and foremost, I am here to learn so if you have facts or informed opinions which you believe refute my positions and opinions, please offer them up so that we might all explore and discuss their merits in a congenial, meaningful, and constructive manner. The more such participation we generate, the better informed we can all become.

So thanks for stopping by and please look for my periodic offerings in subsequent columns in this space.

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Before some readers take immediate offense and begin defending this or that successful candidate, please pay attention: I am not referring to the candidates.

There were a number of excellent candidates in Long Beach’s last primary nominating election. Each of them, whether incumbents or political novices, whether successful, unsuccessful, or moving forward into a run-off election, should be commended for their willingness to take a chance, to put in considerable time, effort and expense, and get actively involved in local politics in Long Beach.

Whether I agreed with their platforms or not, each of these candidates are “stars” in my book!

The vast majority of Long Beach voters, however, not so much.

Thus the “gripe”: Electoral participation and voter turn-out in Long Beach are embarrassing. I would go so far as to say disgusting.

As of this writing, the City Clerk has not yet certified the official election results. According to the most recent unofficial results (dated April 14) a pathetic 17.5% of registered voters bothered to cast a vote in one race or another in the election held on April 8.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Long Beach City Clerk Larry Herrera had predicted a voter turnout between 25% and 30%. Mr. Herrera has been doing an excellent job of overseeing Long Beach’s elections for about 12 years. No one can be said to have more insight into voter trends and participation in the city. Yet even he appears to have greatly overestimated voter interest this time.     

17.5%. That’s 49,870 of 285,029 registered voters. Less than one fifth of those in Long Beach qualified to vote in this election bothered to exert the minimal effort required to actually do so. Less than 50,000 voters made final and semi-final decisions about the course and scope of local government in Long Beach for some 468,000 residents.

Here is my question to the 235,159 registered non-voters in Long Beach: If you aren’t going to bother to vote, why register to do so in the first place?

Were you accosted by someone with a clipboard outside your grocery store and really didn’t want to register but were just too polite to refuse? Perhaps you were exiting a Farmer’s Market and were just feeling so good about that amazing produce you had just bought that you decided to ride your high right on over to the nearby voter registration tables? Maybe you really meant to be responsible and vote but you just couldn’t get away from work or school or your (enter lame excuse here) and just had to pass this time?

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Here’s the thing. For every reason or excuse for not voting (once registered) there is a solution that a person could have applied to overcome it if he or she truly wanted to.

Didn’t register? The California Secretary of State could not make it any easier. If you are reading this column, you could and should have registered to vote.

Didn’t have time? It takes less time to vote at a typical Long Beach polling place than it does for you to receive your fancy-caffeinated-beverage-of-choice at your preferred coffee house. I notice you found time to get your coffee!

Didn’t know where your polling place was? The sample ballot you received had the location printed on it. Didn’t receive a sample ballot? The City Clerk’s office could not have made it any easier to find out online. If you’re reading this column, you could and should have found your polling place.

Don’t like to go to a polling place? Voting by mail, either one time or permanently, has never been easier. Enrolling as a permanent absentee voter means you never have to go to the “voting bad place” ever again and that you can vote at your leisure from the comfort of your own dining room table while sipping your aforementioned fancy-caffeinated-beverage-of-choice.

Fed up and don’t like the direction or the quality of your government in Long Beach? Guess what? You can’t help change those if you don’t vote. Here’s a news flash for you: If local government in Long Beach is less than fully representative, it is only because too few people are voting. It is your responsibility to help guide, monitor, and correct your government, not the government’s responsibility to suit you without your direct participation and input.

YOU…have the responsibility to register and then vote intelligently on every available occasion.

Over 235,000 people in Long Beach who registered, failed of their important responsibility in this regard on April 8. Tens of thousands more failed to register in the first place.

Were you one of them?

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