Your vote doesn’t matter?

Union County Pulse

Tuesday, Nov. 8 was Election Day for most of Union County. We were not voting for president, senators, representatives, governor, state representatives, or even county commissioners. No, the ballots we were casting were almost entirely for local town councils and/or mayor. This was also the case in Indian Trail which is the largest municipality in Union County. Indian Trail also had three bond questions on the ballot for road and sidewalk improvements, and parks. It is a widely held view that your greatest chance of attaining visible results in government is at the local level.

I was hopeful as I stood at the polls asking people to vote for the candidates I supported that we would see a greater voter turnout than Monroe had a few weeks ago. There, fewer than 8 percent of the registered voters showed up. I thought, “Indian Trail is different. People are more involved here.” Over the course of the day my hope faded into despair as I realized that the turnout was going to be about the same. At the end of the day, out of 18,000 registered voters in Indian Trail, about 1,800 voted. That is a 10 percent turnout. Look at it another way and you realize that 90 percent of our citizens failed to vote for their local leaders or bond initiatives.

This is deeply troubling on many levels, but let me give you an example that drives home why your vote is so important. I was approached by an older gentleman at the Shiloh Elementary precinct. I gave him a flyer for the candidates I supported and then advised him I am a current council member in Indian Trail. He then asked me about the bond questions the council had placed on the ballot. He wanted to know why we had a question for a park bond on the ballot. He inquired if I wanted Indian Trail to have a park like Freedom Park in Charlotte, so that homosexuals and deviants would have place to go and indulge in sexual acts. He then shared with me his thoughts on widening Monroe Road, and stated that it would be a mistake to widen the road because Monroe had done similar things thirty years ago and the result was it brought low income people and blacks to town.

Subsequently, I learned that this gentleman had distributed flyers around Indian Trail with gross inaccuracies and misinformation designed to urge people to vote against the bonds. The flyer had no names on it and was not attributable to anyone. The greatest shock I received was when I learned that this man was a retired educator in Union County, and holder of a doctorate degree. I could not believe that someone so bigoted and filled with hate could have had an advanced degree and taught in our schools. He and I parted agreeing to disagree on the issues, but the encounter stayed with me. The despondent feeling I had about this exchange has not eroded with time.

The point I am making here is that this horrendous example of a human being votes. Not only does he vote but he does he best to drive the agenda he supports and will resort to disseminating inaccurate information in an attempt to coerce others into doing the same. Do you want the future of your town decided by such an ignorant individual? How do you feel that he may actually have convinced others to do the same and determine the course of the town you and your family reside in? Personally it makes me sick and I realize now I have great remorse that I did not respond more vocally at the time. I think I was shocked that these statements would emanate from a fellow citizen, and that such beliefs still exist in our free society. Chance encounters like this go a long way to helping me understand how the Nazis very nearly took over the world nearly 75 years ago. It is a toxic combination of citizen apathy and seething hatred embodied by those seeking control of others that can force us into a reality we do not understand. It is our apathetic tendencies we must confront and realize that we are in fact in control of our own destinies.

With that in mind, anyone who does not vote should be ashamed. We can only blame ourselves for our own inactivity. I don’t believe for a minute that the overwhelming majority of people in Indian Trail would agree with the racist views of the man I spoke to. However, with so few people voting there is a very real possibility that his views will matter more than yours. Do you still think your vote does not matter?

Gary D’Onofrio

Council member

Town of Indian Trail

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