Author: Martin Paredes
Greg Freyermuth, on his radio talk show, KTSM 690AM brought up a novel approach to taking back control of local government. Today is the 3rd day of early voting for the November 5 elections and it is still not to late to take control of future politics in El Paso. Freyermuth’s solution to an immediate problem is slick and effective.
By purposely skipping past Briones’ name while filling out your ballot will not force Briones out of office but will send a strong message to both her and the stagnant electoral in the community. Even those who vote straight party tickets can contribute to the subtle rebellion by manually checking your party’s candidates while skipping over Briones’ name.
No matter which local publication you read, whether print or on online, you always encounter someone bemoaning the state of affairs in the city. These individuals always preface their resentment with a complaint about why this city doesn’t progress or why this city is backwards. Supporters of one group will attack and vilify detractors of the vision. El Paso lacks a sense of community involvement and has no understanding of social activism. This has created the city we live in today and has set the foundation for the government that decides the future of the community. With a local electorate participation of less then 30% and a community ignorant of community responsibility it is no wonder that El Paso has stagnated in the 19th century.
The 17th largest city complains about the lack of opportunity and points to the apparent brain drain as the source of community strife. The self-proclaimed defenders of the status-quo, writing for El Paso’s only print daily, trip over themselves by pointing to imagined foes wrapped in the standard “good ole boys club” mantra of bygone days. The reality in our community is much simpler than the rhetoric spewed forth by our monopolistic newspaper – the lack of community participation.
Our government manifested in the form of County Commissioner Dolores Briones is a direct result of the community’s failure to take responsibility for our own actions. Dolores Briones did not lie to the community or steal an election in order to propel herself to power, she did what any El Paso politician will do – she counted on El Paso’s lack of patriotism in order to take control. By relying on the daily’s sense of superiority and the community’s lack of understanding, Briones casually walked into a new term of office. Having secured her next 4 years in office, Briones wasted no time in slapping the community across the face by demanding a higher salary. Fortunately there are still some community members willing to exercise their right to government and soundly refused this outrageous request.
Unsatisfied and with the realization that the community is too blind to act, Briones didn’t bother to wait until the elections were over in order to exercise her agenda over the population by solving one of her biggest headaches in her upcoming political ventures, the issue of an empty Ascarate Park. By forcing the issue of the Arena’s location, Briones hopes to be able to come back and tell us how wonderful she was in bringing this great Arena into our homes. El Paso’s short political memory will assure that the demise of Western Playland , the loss of county revenue and the increase in taxpayer liability will be a distant thought. Fortunately it is not too late to teach Ms. Briones a lesson or two on community activism.
Change can only happen, if we as a community were to take responsibility for our own future. Responsibility comes in many different forms but all have the same result, control of our own futures. Obviously the place to start is at the polls. By voting, the community forces the politicians to work for the community instead of for themselves. Voting gives the community the ultimate weapon against tyranny and self-serving interests. Voting works both ways; it serves to elect a representative as well as to admonish an errant public servant.
The time for community activism is here. Subtle or public, community activism is an effective tool for the public scolding of wayward servants. No agenda driven publication or ineffective mass media can stifle the voice of public activism. Voters who are tired of the abuse of power, our embarrassing local government and have decided that it is time for a change should take control of their government and state unequivocally that enough is enough by purposely “undervoting” for Briones. When the tally comes in with a record voter turnout and a majority repudiation of Briones, a chastised Briones will have only one recourse and that is that she serves at the discretion of the electorate.