(Jim Clark) – We are taught in school that America is a democracy. But that’s not really the case, is it? Next November, each of us will receive a ballot that asks whether we want to vote for Republican Mitt Romney or Democrat Barack Obama. We could also vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Rosanne Barr, but most pundits will tell you that a vote for a minor party candidate is wasted. We close our eyes and vote hoping, but not knowing, that our candidate will represent our interests in governing.
But just suppose the ballot was something more like a Chinese menu. Suppose the choices were not names of candidates, but issues such as pro-choice or pro-life; fiscally constrained or entitlement oriented; strong national defense or strong social programs; laissez faire or strict business regulations, etc. Each voter would then be able to express support for, or opposition to, the major policy issues facing our nation.
I haven’t worked out the mechanics of how this system would result in election of a president and congress because I am writing this just to make a point. On Tuesday, August 28, at 7:00 pm at the Chateau Incline Village and Crystal Bay, residents will be able to vote on how to deal with local issues important to our community; the results will be recorded in a written document for use by IVGID, the North Lake Tahoe Fire District, Washoe County and the Nevada Legislature. This will be a true exercise in direct democracy.
How did this come about? Former Parasol Chair Dean Meiling, past IVGID Chair Gene Brockman and yours truly met last winter to discuss the lack of any coordinated effort to chart the future of our community. As Brockman put it: “Who is driving the bus?”
From this came a new non-profit corporation, IV/CB 2020 Vision, that researched Nevada community development options. We discovered the Nevada Rural Development Council in Carson City, a non-profit public benefit instrumentality with considerable experience in working to help Nevada communities assess themselves and form a consensus around a game plan for their futures.
2020 Vision raised the funds necessary to engage the council and began an outreach to our community’s major stakeholders. Last June, development council officials came to town and conducted 17 different “listening sessions” over a full week, asking over 250 participating community members: “What problems or challenges does the community face?”; “What are its strengths?”; and “What projects and initiatives would you like to see?” The responses will all be set forth in a preliminary written report to the community to be presented on August 28.
Then . . . and here’s where my introductory paragraphs come in . . . we will vote to prioritize the projects and initiatives suggested by citizens. Here are some ideas brought up in the listening sessions:
- Redevelop the old elementary school
- Use Diamond Peak in the summer
- Establish a centralized web site
- Improve bikability/walkability to commercial
- Diversify business and revenue sources
- Clean up Tahoe Boulevard
- Develop a common vision/strategy
- Create a down town central district.
Do you have suggestions that weren’t included? Here’s your chance to unfurl your ideas and see who applauds. The citizen-determined goal priorities will then appear in the final report which the development council will prepare and distribute. The next step will be to organize action groups to begin implementing the goals.
Let’s all show up August 28 and be ready to take Incline Village/Crystal Bay to the next level.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com)