There's a ballot measure being voted on in my city today. Pretty sure I can call Stockton my city since I've lived here for 45 years. I've done everything here. Had a childhood, become a grown-up, paid taxes, started a family, brought up kids through school and sports, and worked on behalf of causes I believe in. So I'm stunned that there is something of great importance being decided for my town that I am ineligible to participate in. What do you mean I don't get to vote?
I recently moved back to my old neighborhood and it's been such a great feeling of coming home. A few months ago I started to see lawn signs going up a few streets over about a sales tax measure. Then the public debate over the issue started. In true Stockton fashion the fur began to fly. I started to form an opinion on how I would vote. I patted myself on the back for being on top of things by having changed my address with the Registrar of Voters. During a conversation with someone about the measures, they asked me if I had read my sample ballot yet. I hadn't received one; maybe I hadn't done such a great job on the change of address after all. I followed up only to be told that my address had indeed been changed but that I reside in a County district and am ineligible to vote on what is a City initiative.
It seems like something I should say, "Oh well, that's the way it is. I'll catch the next issue" but I can't seem to let it go. It keeps needling me. The explanation by Government officials is that a County "pocket" was formed when the City was smaller and it has since grown out and around it. There are apparent tax benefits to being in the County vs. the City and I've been assured that the shopping center up the street won't charge increased sales tax if the initiative passes. That somehow doesn't make it right for me. Maybe it's because I live smack-dab in the middle of town and consider myself a City resident. Why wouldn't I? I use the City library that is a few blocks away. I don't confine my sales taxable activities to that one shopping center so I will be subjected to the outcome of this election, yet I have no input. That seems wrong to me. It feels like taxation without representation, whether it fits the definition or not. The thing is, I'm not against the initiatives, I just want to exercise my right to vote on issues that affect me.
The remedy would be to annex the County pocket over to the City. A proposition not likely to be favorable to the Pocket People. They like their lower utility rates and probably think if it ain't broke don't fix it. I get that no one wants to pay more taxes but somehow the division of Community doesn't feel right either. It's time for Stockton to come together, stand together and move forward TOGETHER. Like any family we get mad, we walk away, we hoard and don't share, and we talk shit but when the chips are down -- and boy have they been down -- we're all one town.
So I'm sad and irritated to be sitting on the sidelines today. Especially when voter turnout is expected to be dismal. It's projected that approximately 17% of City residents will cast votes thus deciding this issue for the lot of us. I agree with the notion that you don't get to complain if you didn't participate. I don't agree to be muted by outdated City/County districting agreements that haven't been reviewed for relevancy in God knows how long.