March 2004

Election day in Florida this spring is Tuesday, March 9th. Unfortunately, the way the primaries for the presidential race have been clumped up earlier, and the nature of the race where the selection of John Kerry seems to be a done deal, voting in the primary could be seen as less than meaningful. Well, please forge on and vote, and by all means if Tuesday, March 9 is inconvenient for you, take advantage of voting early at the Supervisor of Elections office, open Sunday (afternoon) through Friday for your ease of voting. (Early voting will be available in the general election too, by the way. So you could bring people to the polls all week-think about it!)

Back to the primary: we say vote your heart in this election. A lot of people seem to be voting for Kerry on the theory that winning big in the primary will give him some kind of boost in the general election. We say voting for someone to the left of Kerry (say, Kucinich or Dean) let's him know he's going to have to speak to those of us who are skeptical of his vote to authorize Bush to go to war in Iraq, for example.

Our logic is, if Kerry forgets the issues that really face us day to day (the need for universal healthcare comes to mind) and goes into the 'let's woo voters in the center' mode, a lot of people won't bother to go to the polls in the general election. A vote for, say, Kucinich or Braun or Dean (all on our ballot) will remind Kerry that we're still out here. He needs more than just to take people for granted, Kerry needs (and to the extent we need Bush defeated we all need) him to run a campaign that addresses the things people are facing day to day, people who are discouraged or dismayed with the choices we face in the voting booth.

Gainesville residents also have a mayor's race on the ballot. Longtime banker and no stranger to the power structure C.B. Daniel jumped in early with lots of money and business support. Pegeen Hanrahan, a former commissioner and environmental engineer declared her candidacy shortly after, while Tom Bussing, the incumbent didn't announce until just before the deadline, as did Mike Belle, a student-age volunteer for the Kucinich campaign. Belle has since pulled out of the race, leaving folks like us with two good candidates to choose from, and a race which could go into a runoff if no-one gets 50% + 1 vote.

Like the Sierra Club, we are endorsing both Pegeen Hanrahan and Tom Bussing. Whichever you choose, it's important that you vote to prevent C.B. Daniel from waltzing in. The runoff for this race, if necessary, will be March 30th.

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