The focus of today’s post is the 2021 City Council elections. I will start with some of the basics as there are quite few new subscribers to the blog. There will be 2 parts to this post, with the second part published tomorrow.
On August 19th, qualifying for upcoming City Council elections ended. The qualification period lasted 3 days. Qualification is when candidates officially declare their candidacy, filing the necessary paperwork at City Hall and paying fees to the City Clerk. The City ascertains that filing candidates are residents of Milton and running in the correct district. Qualifying ensures that candidates’ names appear on the November ballot.
Milton’s elected government consists of a mayor plus a city council, comprised of 6 members–two from each of Milton’s three districts. The Mayor sits on Council and has a vote; he/she also retains some special powers and serves as a kind of “head of state” for ceremonial functions (ribbon-cuttings, etc.). In Milton, in 2021, voters will elect the Mayor and 3 Council members–one from each of Milton’s three districts. (Elections are staggered every 2 years, so the remaining three Council members will be elected in 2023.) The Mayor and Council Members serve four-year terms. Voting is at-large, meaning that all Milton citizens vote for all council members, regardless of the candidate’s or the voter’s district. So in 2021, all voters will vote for the Mayor and for three Council members.
Two of the four 2021 races will be competitive. That is both good news and bad news. The good news is that two races are competitive. Milton needs competitive races to keep politicians honest and to foster debates about important city issues. And one of the races features an upstart against an incumbent. This race is especially encouraging as it gives citizens an opportunity to send a message to our city government about citizens’ satisfaction with the status quo and with the City government’s accomplishments (or lack thereof) over the past 4 years. (I will have much more to say about this topic as I strongly believe things are not well in Milton and governance has sadly regressed over the past 4 years.)
The bad news is that only 2 races are competitive. It is troubling that more citizens do not enter the political arena; Milton desperately needs smart, honest, and caring elected representatives. However, citizens’ reluctance to run is understandable given the often dysfunctional (and sometimes toxic) political environment in Milton (the Matilda’s and Painted Horse fiascos are Exhibits A and B of the dysfunction at City Hall.) Many eminently qualified citizens do not run out of fear, disgust, or both. In 2013 and 2015, things were so bad that there were actually no competitive elections in Milton. However, through the hard work of a small group of citizens that I was proud to be a part of (and sometimes lead), citizens rebelled and ejected several City Council members in 2017 and 2019.
Milton actually has a good track record when it comes to “throwing the bums out.” Many incumbents have been voted out of office (or sometimes saw the writing on the wall and declined to run). It is helpful that Milton’s elections occur in odd-numbered years, when there are (usually) no state or federal candidates on the ballot. This means that only the most committed and informed voters show up at the polls . . . folks like you who are willing to invest to understand the election landscape and are much less likely to be persuaded by appeals based on incumbency and “experience.”
In tomorrow’s post, I will provide my observations on the four City Council seats up for election.
Advocating For Miltonites,