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June 14, 2013
Confused by Off-Year Elections?  If You Are, Vote the Issues.

  In the past, you have seen (and we hope have read) many requests from South Boston Online to vote.  Why let somebody else choose your elected officials for you?

  That question is even more valid this year, because the Year of Our Lord 2013 is a so-called “off-year”.  Yes, 2103 is in fact an “off-year”, but there are some very important elections to vote in - elections that are as much as, or more important than any other year.  So step up and choose for yourself.

  The Special Election to replace Jack Hart as state Senator of the First Suffolk District is already over.  Linda Dorcena Forry was chosen by the voters to succeed him.  But there are more elections to follow.

  Just 13 days from now, the Special Election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry in the U.S Senate takes place.  The deadline for new voters to register has passed.

  The Senatorial candidates are Republican Gabriel E. Gomez and Democratic Congressman Edward F. Markey.  As everyone already knows, Gomez fills the part of the feisty newcomer, who is challenging Washington’s establishment and its “gridlock” politics; Markey takes great care to come across as the wise, experienced insider, who is able to command a campaign visit by President Obama.

  Frankly, in South Boston Online’s opinion, the debate last Wednesday evening between Markey and Gomez did nothing more than confirm those roles.  Otherwise, the debate was useless.  Neither candidate had anything much of any substance to say (or yell); certainly they said nothing that had any depth to it.  So, what is a voter to do?

  The answer is simple:  Don’t vote the candidate.  Instead, vote the issues that are most important to you.  At the Federal level, some important issues include treatment of returning veterans, job programs (especially for young people), Middle Eastern policy, and government overreach and overspending.  We’ll leave it to you, the voter, to decide who will best handle these issues.  But please vote in the Special Election for U.S. Senator on June 25.

  In Boston’s Mayoral race, there could be fifteen (yes, 15) candidates.  If you asked, “Who?”, when you saw half (or more) of the names on the list, you’d be right in step with the rest of us.  Where did all these candidates come from?  Most are unknowns with scanty experience to offer.

  Of course, in America anyone is entitled to run for almost any office, but Boston’s Mayoral slate is far too crowded.  And it’s a long time until the Preliminary Election gets rid of the unsatisfactory candidates on September 24.  The attempted debates (if you can call them that) have been laughable – glorified sound bites are all they’ve been good for.

  So, what’s to be done?  The answer is again simple, and again the same:   In the Preliminary Election on September 24, vote the issues, not the candidates for Mayor.

  Now, Boston is truly a world-class city but it has three basic issues that cause major problems – and the same three problems exist in our own South Boston.  These problems are:  1.- Poor education at the high school level , 2.- Substance abuse, and, 3.- Out of control development ( development that is not carefully (!) balanced between economic progress and the preservation of neighborhood life).

  If you think a prospective Mayoral candidate can resolve these three key issues, then by all means vote for that candidate.  The same principle applies to the enormous number of potential candidates planning to run for open City Councilor seats.  Vote the issues, not the candidates.  Remember, in the long run, a candidate’s personality doesn’t count.   How he or she handles key issues is what really counts.

  Why are those particular three issues so important (even in an “off-year”)?  A few facts will illustrate:

  The Boston Public Schools (BPS) have only a 65% graduation rate, even after years of so-called “improvements”.  That means slightly more than one out of three BPS students fails to graduate on time.  That’s a grade of “D”, which is a disgrace in a city with intellectual pretensions like Boston has.  And it’s not that Boston doesn’t spend enough of your tax money –the City spends about $15,000 per year on each student, which is among the highest in the nation.

  Concerning the substance abuse issue, South Boston is a fairly safe, crime-free neighborhood.  But 80% of the crimes that actually are committed here are drug-related.  That includes all of the recent homicides.  And then there are all the young lives ruined by substance abuse.  Need we say more?

  As for the development issue, it is no secret that developers often move more rapidly than they should, whether next door to you or in mega-projects along the South Boston Waterfront.  Zoning variances are a haphazard process.  Is there an overall plan for the Waterfront, including new roadways that will prevent increasing traffic gridlocks?  South Boston Online hasn’t seen any such plan.  Dismantling the BRA has been in the media recently.  Where do the candidates stand on that?  Does any candidate have practical ideas on how to resolve continuing parking and green space issues here?

  South Boston Online asks you to stay informed.  Grill the candidates about those three issues, until you find those who can give you good, solid answers.  And plan to vote in this off-year – the 2013 elections will be pivotal to South Boston’s future.

  But vote the issues, not the person(s).  We don’t need “visionaries”, we need elected officials who will do a good job of “minding the store”.  

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