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Underwhelming approach in overwhelming times disturbing

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If you’re anything like me you’re probably glad to have a temporary reprieve from the negative campaign mailers and television ads for candidates running on the state or federal level. They can be overwhelming at times. That being said, I think I’d rather be overwhelmed than underwhelmed when it comes to the people who want to spend my money, and underwhelmed is the best word I can come up with to describe the Navasota city council election Saturday, May 7.

Yes folks, we have an important city council election coming up. Some of you may not even be aware there is an election. Or that two of the three seats on the ballot are contested because there is little evidence of it out there except maybe to their friends and family. You may wonder why I call this particular election an “important” election but truthfully, I believe ALL city council elections are important. The five people who meet the second and fourth Monday of each month are tasked with making decisions that affect Navasota pocketbooks, the quality of life for every Navasota resident and determine Navasota’s destiny.

By the time this goes to press, we will be a month away from early voting and 45 days from the May 7 election and I haven’t seen one sign, one ad or received one mailer telling me why I should trust any particular candidate with spending my tax dollars. Nor do I know of any candidate forums or meet-and-greets where voters, particularly those new to Navasota, can meet candidates face-to-face and ask about their qualifications for overseeing Navasota’s $3 million budget.

I began attending city council meetings as a citizen in July 2013 and began covering them for the Navasota Examiner in April 2014. I can’t stress enough the impact every single vote city council members make has on our personal lives and fortunes. Those decisions run the gamut from whether or not to increase property tax rates or utility fees to determining the appropriateness of a business in the historic Overlay District.

City council also gives the final blessing to ordinances which impact private businesses, the kind of housing Navasota will allow in its city limits and the amenities those communities should provide, and most recently, the selection of a city manager capable of continuing Navasota’s positive economic trajectory. Even changing the direction of traffic flow requires a vote of city council.

I’m probably dating myself talking about mailers, signs and the old-fashioned door-to-door ‘Hello, I’m so-and -so. I’m running for city council and this is why I’m the best person for the job.’ I realize that social media has played a big role in campaigns for the last 10 years but that shouldn’t be the only way of communicating. I should not have to be someone’s Facebook friend to find out their views on the role of city government and how they will approach those intensely difficult decisions that council members often face.

In the past I’ve written about voter apathy – such as in 2021 when only 227 of Navasota’s 4,073 registered voters elected city council members. We fared better in 2020 because Covid caused city elections to be placed on the November presidential election ballot. That year 1,852 voters elected our city leaders – better but still less than half.

My concern for voter apathy has been replaced by concern for candidate apathy. Our country is in dire straits and if there is doubt that Navasota is feeling the effects, check gasoline prices, try ordering appliances or chip-driven parts, lumber or even the paper on which to print this column.

Navasota city council candidate, exactly what are you bringing to the party? How will you steer Navasota safely through these disturbing economic times? With my hand holding tight to my wallet, my inquiring mind wants to know!

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements, and this is NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner. Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.