The Bright Side

In the City of Lake Geneva “Democracy” ends at the ballot box.
After that, the city government is a representative republic and the only majority that matters is the majority vote of the city council. It is again time to select those who will represent all citizens in Lake Geneva’s city government.

It starts with the spring primary on Feb. 20th. The primary election is to assure that there are not more than two candidates running for each elected office in the spring election on April 3rd. The city government is only as good as the people who get elected, which is dependent on those who run for office and the people who vote and, in the past, there has been a problem with both. The salary paid to elected city council member is inadequate for the amount of time, needed ability and the level of responsibility that they have. Theoretically, a significant increase in city council pay would attract more (and more qualified) residents to run. Although higher salaries do not make people better qualified, higher salaries will increase the number willing to run for public office and that makes for a larger selection from which to choose.

The problem with voters is apathy and sometimes anger. Those with voter apathy, simply don’t vote, which for City of Lake Geneva’s recent local elections has been more than those that do vote. Those with anger often vote, but in voting, they vote against someone by voting for someone else that they don’t know and without knowing what they will get. How serious is voter apathy in Lake Geneva? Even with so many contested positions this year, Lake Geneva will be lucky if 25% of the people eligible to vote (not just those registered) cast a ballot on Feb. 20th. In non-mayoral years, primary voting has been as low as 10% of eligible voters.

To give an example of the candidate/voter problem in Lake Geneva: In one primary election in the 4th district: Marsala received 51 votes, O’Neill received 49 votes and Chappell received 6 votes for a total of 106 votes out of almost 1,000 eligible voters. At a later election due to district boundary changes, Chappell ran unopposed in the 1st district and won!

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