Newspaper columnists can be creatures of habit. Every November, for example, I know I’m going to write a column about the annual Kiwanis Pancake Supper. During even-numbered years, I get to tie that column around Election Day, which falls on the same day as the Pancake Supper, and that makes for a nice every-other year change of pace. Our community — and several others around the state — will know the results of very important elections this Saturday, but we won’t have pancakes to help restore our energy after voting on the local issues.
There are several different elections being held around the county, including the four propositions in Brownwood, as well votes involving the Blanket schools, the Bangs city council and school board and the Brown County Water Improvement District. Each is an important vote, and those eligible to cast ballots — who have not already done so through early voting — need to make a trip to the polls a priority this Saturday.
The Brownwood propositions have received the most attention, and based on letters to the editor and comments posted on the Bulletin’s Web site, are the most controversial. Perhaps the most talked-about proposition is the first one, which calls for a change to the city’s charter. If amended, the charter would allow for the appointment of the city’s police chief, and do away with the election process currently in place. There have been compelling arguments made for both sides of the issue, and those promoting a change have tried to make sure their message is about the methodology, rather than the man, involved. To have a functional city government, the city’s manager needs to be able to manage. That means he has to have some level of control over those who work for him. The current model our city operates under does not allow for that control, and citizens should vote for Proposition One and for a change in how our chief of police is selected to fix that situation.
The public’s positions on Propositions Two, Three and Four aren’t necessarily unanimous, but they seem to be grabbing much less of the spotlight. Like Proposition One, they should also be passed. It’s rare that circumstances come together as they have for this project — donated land, available tax dollars, facilities to move into and a great public need. There is no question that these three propositions, which would allow the BEDC to help fund a new pool, moving the senior citizens center downtown and a new baseball and softball complex, would improve the quality of life in Brownwood and the surrounding area. Leaders from our city, industrial park and other segments of the population have all come forward to support these three propositions.
Apparently there is a similar measure before voters in Abilene, and that has created some confusion because there are television ads that are sponsored by opponents of their project. (That’s just one more reason to pick up a newspaper). There are numerous differences in the two plans — and no similarities should be drawn by voters according to people associated with the Brownwood project. Locally, no new tax dollars would be spent, admission and programming fees would remain unchanged and these three projects are just part of a larger overall plan that can be adopted in phases. The projects are good for our community and voters should approve all three of the parks and recreation propositions.
A good many people have already made their choices by voting early. The rest of us will have that opportunity again on Saturday. Elections are rarely simple affairs that happen without differing points of view. That’s exactly why we have them — because our nation is not one that always marches in lock-step. Disagreements will happen, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In this election, though, the correct choices for Brownwood’s future are to vote yes on each of the propositions.
Bill Crist is associate publisher and general manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesday. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.