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Protect your vote

By Staff | Jan 15, 2009

To the editor,

As I read the article about City Council appointing new members to the Planning Commission a chill went up my spine. I suddenly realized that there are people trying to steal my vote. Yes, under the guise of open council meetings, right in front of my eyes people are trying to steal my vote. Vigilantes, self-appointed lobbyists, activists, political action committees or by any other name they are out to steal my vote.

“Loud expression of public displeasure” and demanding that Council Members explain their “reasoning behind each choice.” Who are these self-appointed lobbyists, these vigilantes that show up at every council meeting and “demand” to be heard on every issue? I do not know who they are, do you? Yes, they have a right to observe and participate when allowed, but they are not there protecting my rights, they are taking my rights away. They may be in the public, but they do not represent the public.

Yes, they are stealing my vote. I voted in the City election, I voted for the Council Members that they are trying to intimidate. I voted for the Council members because I wanted them to represent me and all of the voters of Sanibel. And I trust that they will act and vote in the best interest of all of the citizens. I trust that they will not be intimidated by these vigilante lobbyists who sit through every council meeting and comment on every issue.

All Sanibel voters have a right to trust that just because they have a job, children to care for, school or they just choose not to attend council meetings, that their vote is just as important as the self-appointed lobbyists. The only votes that count at the council meetings are votes cast by elected Council members. They were elected by all of the citizens of Sanibel to represent all of us.

Those who choose to attend council meetings are there to observe and to comment when appropriate. They should not be there in an attempt to exert pressure and intimidate council members. The council chambers are where our elected representatives conduct the business of the city. The meetings are open to the public and the council “may” solicit input from the citizens in attendance but, it is not a place to conduct referendums on the issue. Just because a few – or a lot – of vocal people (they may not even be voters) show up does not mean that they represent anybody other than themselves.

Be aware that you must protect your vote. The best way to protect your vote is to vote in the city elections and to let the duly elected Council members who do represent you know how you feel in an appropriate and respectful manner. I believe that on the issue of the Planning Commission, Council members did represent all of the citizens and acted in a manner that they felt was in the best interest of the City of Sanibel. I support and appreciate their courage, their commitment and their patience.

Steven B. Smith