Democracy in action
Last Thursday’s action by both the citizens of Lincolnton and their elected representatives gave a great lesson involving true democracy in action. At the June Council meeting, numerous citizens expressed their strong objection to a proposed trash tax. After affording the citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions, their Councilmen then voted their consciences and, by majority vote, approved the tax. This vote caused much anguish on the part of the attending citizens, myself included. In the month that followed, in letters to the editor and in personal contact with the Mayor and their Councilmen, many citizens continued to voice their opposition to the new tax. Citizens freely exercised their constitutional right to “…petition the government for a redress of grievances.” At Thursday’s Council meeting, the impact of the petitions was clearly evident. Because citizens chose not to simply sit at home and gripe about the situation, but rather to make the personal effort to exercise their rights, democracy carried the day. The Council, in response to the voices of the citizens, voted to modify the offending tax, reducing it by 50 percent. Party affiliation did not matter. In a related action, very necessary budget concerns entered the discussions. To aid in compensating for the decrease in revenue, resulting from the reduced trash tax, the Council voted to eliminate a planned purchase of 4,000 95-gallon recycling containers estimated to cost approximately $144,000, a vote that I strongly support. The art of the compromise, sorely lacking in many current political activities, carried the day. Neither side in the trash tax issue received everything they wanted, but both sides gained something from the vote. In these days too many of our citizens are convinced that their elected representatives are totally un-responsive to the concerns and welfare of the individual citizen. We in Lincolnton proudly witnessed an age old, and some may consider old fashioned, display of American democracy in action. Congratulations to all involved Lincolnton citizens, and to the very responsive members of our City Council.
Editor’s note: This Reader’s Forum letter was received on Saturday.