How Many Voters Will Decide the Fate of Jefferson City Sales Tax?
An article posted Saturday by the News Tribune says Cole County expects only a five percent turnout for Tuesday's special election to decide whether to keep Jefferson City's half-cent capital improvements sales tax. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about politics, often attributed to, and definitely popularized by West Wing creator and auteur Aaron Sorkin: "Decisions are made by those who show up."
So on Tuesday, the registered voters in Cole County get to vote on Jefferson City's half-cent capital improvements sales tax. It doesn't sound like a burdensome tax. And it's one that's been ratified or retained for seven previous five-year cycles. So it doesn't sound important.
According to the News Tribune, "Sales tax funds go toward projects around Jefferson City such as sidewalks, road repairs and cooperative projects with Cole County. It is projected to bring in $5.6 million annually over the tax's five-year span for a total of $28 million."
It becomes a little bigger when you place it in the context of how much money it brings into the city, and what the money pays for.
That brings me back to the statement "Decisions are made by those who show up." As I mentioned, the statement is widely attributed to writer and director Aaron Sorkin, who hit on that theme several times in The West Wing and also used the line in a commencement address. Variations on the line have been attributed to everyone from Ben Franklin to our own Harry Truman and even Woody Allen.
It's a simple statement but it's true. It doesn't matter if we're voting for our president, our governor, our representatives, our mayors, our council members, or funding a big city improvement.
Most of us have opinions on how our communities are run. Yet many have a hard time making time to go to the polls. So on Tuesday, Cole County Officials say they expect only 5 percent of Cole County voters to show up and make the decision on whether or not Jefferson City will get $28 million dollars over five years for road repairs, new sidewalks, and projects in conjunction with Cole County.
It's a shame 95 percent of the voters are willing to let five percent of voters who show up make that decision.