June 9, 2015 the Orem City Manager proposed we change Orem’s election process to “vote by mail.” Mayor Brunst, Mark Seastrand, Margaret Black and Brent Sumner spoke in favor of “vote by mail.” I was the only one who spoke against it. Dave Spencer and Tom MacDonald were out of town and did not participate in this vote.
It is not uncommon for the City Manager to bring up things in a pre-meeting. It’s a vote, but not a binding vote. The binding vote is June 23. The city manager and his staff spoke of many reasons to change the election process. They took most of the time talking about how great it would be, and it would only cost the taxpayers an additional $70,000.
I spoke against “vote by mail” for several reasons. Orem City Council and mayor elections have become very expensive. It’s become a rich man’s activity. Orem needs to adopt Provo’s form of government. Provo has its city divided in five separate districts, with one City Council member elected from each of the five districts. They have two additional councilmen/women elected at large from throughout the city. In my opinion, this gives Provo City a better and a more representative government than Orem. For instance, right now, four of the elected Mayor/Council members in Orem are in the North East Quadrant of Orem. Three of us are from the South West Quadrant. In my opinion that is not what is best for Orem.
Suppose you wanted to run for office. If Orem changed its form of government, and we had five districts, you would only need to campaign in 1/5th of the city (20%) not 100% of the city. Your costs for signs, mailers, postage, printing, neighborhood meetings, campaign events, etc. would be 1/5th of the cost of trying to cover the whole city.
The privilege of the vote is rare in human history. Other nations still fight and die for the privilege. The privilege is not much of a privilege when it turns into an activity participated in primarily by the“privileged.” I believe we would have far more meaningful participation throughout Orem if we involved not just the wealthier citizens. All areas of the city need representation. Right now you do not have it. Decisions on things like parks, APARTMENTS and SUBSIDIES are made in Orem City Council meetings. Do you favor corporate welfare with the city choosing favorites?
“Vote by Mail” is expensive. To compete in a city vote by mail, your campaign costs rise dramatically. If you had only 20% of Orem City to cover, your costs will drop accordingly.
“Vote by Mail” makes the election process more and more a rich mans activity. It helps incumbents. It hurts new candidates. It encourages even more special interest groups to try to tip the scales of the election process. In the last election the University Mall spent $18,500 on Orem City Council candidates. In the prior city election two years before, the University Mall spent $75 dollars. Why did the mall put $18,500 into campaign coffers this last election? Some thought it might have been the malls request for their pending $58 million subsidy vote.
Orem City Council members could not be bought by $18,500 in mall contributions, but the intent of the University Mall is obvious. “Vote my mail,” if approved by the Orem City Council increases candidates costs. Other special interest groups may seek out candidates who will be friendly to a subsidy for their business. Special interest groups impact on elections would be mitigated by cutting our candidates campaign area to 20% of the city as opposed to 100% of the city.
Please contact the members of the Orem City Council and express your opposition to the negative impact “vote by mail” will have on our elections. Tell them you want Orem City to change its form of government to be like Provo’s. It will give Orem residents better representation. City elections should not be a rich man’s activity.
When we change Orem’s form of government campaign expenses will drop dramatically. You can “vote by mail” if you wish. You can vote early if you wish. To change the process will mean the city will mail thousands of ballots to non-existent voters who moved years ago.
It is unfair to get eleven candidates to sign up to run for the Orem City Council, then change the rules which dramatically run up their election campaign costs. It may not be illegal, but it is unethical.
Hans V. Andersen Jr., member, Orem City Council.
Orem candidates question timing of ‘Vote by Mail’ – Herald Extra
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