Why do we 'Live Here'?

Posted by John Kanelis on

We all live here for reasons that are personal to us. We may like the climate. Perhaps we enjoy the relative freshness of the air. Maybe we enjoy those magnificent sunrises and sunsets unobstructed by things such as, oh, tall trees and mountains.

Those of us who choose to live here also get to choose the governance we get. With that, "Live Here" returns to the air on March 26 with an examination of the upcoming Amarillo City Council election. The message of that segment -- and of the one that follows the next week -- will be simple and declarative.

It is imperative that we get out and vote for the people who seek to represent our interests on the Amarillo City Council.

The mayor and all four council seats are up for election in May. "Live Here" will talk to former members of the City Council, trying to get from them the answer to the question: Why vote?

"Live Here" moderator Jacob Workman will explore the duties of City Council members and the mayor. He'll examine their roles in shaping public policy for a city of nearly 200,000 residents. Why is it important for us to know these things? Because historically the voter turnout for these elections is low -- as in single-digit percentage low!

There's no way to sugarcoat that turnout tendency. It's shameful.

The people we select to serve on our City Council make myriad decisions every year that have a direct effect on our lives.

They determine how we pay for water and sewer service; they regulate electricity and natural gas rates; they set budgets to determine the level of street maintenance is available and whether crews can repair potholes in a timely fashion.

Council members set the budgets for police and fire protection. If you need a police officer or a firefighter to give you assistance, you need to know who is determining whether those individuals can meet your needs.

Do you want to be able to check out books and videos from your public library? The City Council determines the money available for our library system. It sets the budget for animal control. The council ensures that our traffic signals work and it determines which public works projects get done and in what order.

Local government, by definition, is the government that is closest to our homes and determines more about our daily lives than any other level of government.

***

Sixteen individuals are running for all five City Council seats. On April 2, Panhandle PBS will broadcast a candidate forum in which the candidates will be invited to answer questions from a panel of local journalists.

Viewers will get a chance to size up each of them and determine who among them deserves your vote.

Will they answer in platitudes or will they provide specific answers to probing questions?

"We want to push people to get involved in the electoral system," Panhandle PBS General Manager Chris Hays said, and his goal is to get them "engaged in the process" through the consecutive broadcasts coming up soon.

"Live Here" is broadcast Thursday nights at 7, on Panhandle PBS.

***

Panhandle PBS always is looking for story ideas for future "Live Here" segments.

If you have a thought or an idea about a story you think should be examined, we're anxious to hear from you. Drop us a note by accessing the website.

This, after, is public television. Let's all get engaged in this important effort to boost public awareness in issues that matter most to the public.

 

 


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