Let me see a show of hands: Who is tired of negative political campaigns? Don’t be shy, raise your hand. Are you tired of candidates exercising their right of free speech at the expense of civility or competent substantial evidence? Based on some candidates’ statements, Royal Palm Beach is really falling apart. Whatever happened to running for office on your qualifications? Whether national or local, politics is the same.
Or is it? Locally, your vote has a much greater influence than nationally, state or even county. When I moved here in 1986, the mayor ran the whole village for his own benefit, and we had an absentee village manager. Then our mayor got a promotion, and the village hired a strong manager. Many, many decisions were made in those years that we are benefiting from today, and will continue to benefit from in the future if we don’t mess it up.
Royal Palm Beach has millions of dollars in the bank, and the village is about to pay off the only debt. Another show of hands, please: Who wants to be debt free? We have a low and stable tax rate, more parks per capita than any other municipality in Palm Beach County, free events other communities charge for, a great web site that alerts you to all things Royal Palm Beach, an annual strategic planning meeting open to all residents for input and much more. Do things take longer to get done sometimes that we might like, yes. But I have found that persistence pays off well. Can the village continue to improve? Of course.
So you ask, how do we keep this mecca that has been built over time, since apparently we are falling apart at the same time? The average voter does not have the time or energy to research all the sides of all the issues of any election, to determine for themselves what is fact, fiction or somewhere in between. Our brief encounters with those running for political office does not allow us to really know these people to determine for ourselves if they are genuinely going to support us, the residents, or if there is another agenda… So, it’s understandable why the voting public may feel frustrated and even tune out the elections…
So, you ask, what’s a voter to do? Here are my Cliff’s Notes on the Royal Palm Beach municipal election: Take a good look around you, your neighborhood, your village, your services (both public and commercial) and your police presence. If you like having money in the bank, great parks, low taxes, improving schools, ongoing comprehensive plan changes to regulate development, the ability to attend any council meeting and be heard because that’s the first agenda item, watch all village meetings on TV or through the web site, walk your neighborhoods and feel safe because of the low crime rate, then you vote for the incumbents. However, if these things are not important to you and your family, or you disagree that these things are good things and you want change, then you vote for the challengers. Just keep in mind, it’s human nature to never appreciate what you have until you lose it. See you at the polls!
Jackie Larson, Royal Palm Beach
Editor’s note: Ms. Larson is a longtime member of the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission.