Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Do some thinking before you vote

Those of you unable or unwilling to get out from under your rocks probably haven’t noticed all the political lawn signs around town. And, for those of you who have seen the lawn signs and wondered what’s going on, there’s an election on Tuesday, June 12.

And for those of you who don’t care and never vote, the rest of us hope you don’t complain about who gets elected and what laws get passed because your silence means that you’ve decided to let someone else determine who gets to govern us.

One of the really good things about North Dakota’s government is that it really does allow “we the people” to fully participate. Any resident can run for any office as well as participate in initiating and referring laws… all you need is to round up enuf signatures to get yourself on the ballot (300 for county, city, state, school board, etc.). Since statewide initiatives and referrals require more signatures to get on the ballot, they’re a little tougher to get, but it must work because every election there’s some question that we voters need to answer.

I am usually willing to sign anyone’s petition that wants to get on the ballot, but when it comes to initiatives and referrals I take the time to understand what the petitioner is asking for before signing.

So besides candidates for public office what’s on the June ballot? Glad you finally asked.

There are four ballot measures; number one was put on by the legislature to allow members to take a state job as long as the job didn’t provide the member a windfall of pay that was increased more than any other state job. (I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing but I do have a bit of trouble with a legislator creating a new state job so he can secure employment for himself… so I’m gonna look into that one a bit more before exposing my vote).

Measure’s 2 and 3 are initiated measures put on by the people. Measure 2 does away with property tax, which sounds good on the surface, but a closer look is in order. The first question to ask is how will it work? It turns all the local decisions over to the legislature. The legislature is composed of 141 citizens from all over the state and they meet for four months every other year. So rather than funding local issues with local dollars and elected boards composed of local folks that meet once a month, every community would be subjected to the whims of the legislature. I’m a firm believer in local control… I’d much rather trust the folks who actually live in my community than rely on the three out of 141 legislators that Mandan sends to the legislature.

Measure 3 is a kooky measure and says that government can’t interfere with religion unless it has a compelling interest. Well, what’s compelling? What if a religion subjugates women and says it’s okay to brutalize a disobedient wife who promised to love, honor, and OBEY her husband? Do you think we should revert to that? The lawyers I talk to think that the U.S. Constitution adequately protects however we want to worship… and they think measure 3 will only result in massive litigation as it goes too far… so there’s a no vote for me.

Measure 4 is a referral put on by the people concerning whether or not UND can keep its “Fighting Sioux” logo… and I could care less about that issue so I don’t know what I’ll do with it.

So now that I’ve exposed my druthers on these issues I will once again encourage you to vote on Tuesday, June 12, because democracy is only as good as the people who participate in it…