Steve “Stef” Stefanides
2016 continues to be an election year that has Americans shaking their heads as to the choices they have at the ballot box. This year we will have the opportunity to elect office holders that range from the highest office in the land, in addition to candidates for some of the more local, state and federal offices which are up for election.
It was Winston Churchill that said; “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Those words just seem to come back to echo in my ears as the incessant drum beat of political slogans and robo calls continue to inundate our everyday lives. All of this before we vote in the primary election the end of this month.
Here in Collier County we are not immune to this constant barrage of political messaging. Those running for office are out on a daily basis attempting to maneuver for endorsements from media outlets, well known community members and fellow office holders.
We are constantly barraged by mailers, social media postings, along with TV and radio ads promoting individuals running for office. Many times these mailers and ads have little to do with the job they are seeking to hold on behalf of their citizens. Unfortunately they are also aimed at the “fear factor,” and mask what might be expected from an individual if elected.
Many of the issues facing Floridians are lost in the wave of ads concerning immigration, terrorism and protecting the right to bear arms. These are important issues, but for the most part must be worked on at the federal level.
Issues I want to hear discussed include:
• Ensuring Florida has adequate clean drinking water supplies.
• How to deal with the dumping of pollutants into the Kissimmee Watershed that contributes to the problems plaguing Lake Okeechobee.
• Working on a joint state and federal solution to the problems which surround the dumping of pollutants from Lake Okeechobee into the waterways on both the east and west coast of Florida.
• How to support local law enforcement to deal with what appears to be a rising demand for services in the state.
• Dealing with educational issues by applying a common sense approach to insure our kids graduate with a strong foundation of basic skills to enter the work force or seek higher educational pursuits.
• How to insure all young men and women in Florida have access to higher education without saddling them with back breaking student loans.
• Protecting our elderly as the need for additional healthcare and social services continue to rise.
• Providing an atmosphere for a more diversified economic platform that provides growth in good quality paying jobs in clean industry throughout the state.
• Protecting the valuable ecosystem which provides a base for our tourist industry around the state.
• Protecting the rights of communities to deal with issues within their own municipalities.
• Limiting the influence of special interests over citizen interests in Tallahassee.
• Develop better long range planning for improved mass transportation within the state to meet the growing pressure on roadways.
Florida surpassed the 20 million population mark in 2015, and there are an additional 1,000 people a day moving into our state. With that growth comes challenges, and we must be prepared to deal with them in a forthright and intelligent manner.
Dealing with those challenges will require a sensible and cost effective approach. Simply throwing money at an issue is not the answer, but instead we must have leaders that are prepared to sit down from both sides of the isle and deal with the challenges in an educated and reasoned fashion.
Your votes during the primary may well decide who will be going forward to tackle these thorny issues on your behalf. Whether it be for the clerk of court, school board seats, state representative, state senate, county commissioners or a myriad of other offices, your vote is important.
I believe FDR said it best when he said; “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Take the time and effort to study the facts, not just the brochures. By exercising this right, which many around the world don’t have the opportunity to do, you will have a say in how our lives and the lives of your children and grandchildren may look in the years to come.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com.