Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Save Pennsylvania $600,000 -- Yawn, another day in the blogsphere with your help.

An Open Letter and Request (feel free to repost, link to, re-use, etc.)

From: Mark Rauterkus, Candidate for PA Senate
108 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh's South Side, 15203

Mark@Rauterkus.com 412-298-3432 = cell

Pennsylvania's Elected Leaders
Allegheny County's Election Officials
Allegheny County Executive

Original release: December 14, 2004

Subject: Special Election in PA Senate 42 should be May 17, 2005.

The citizens and voters of Pennsylvania would benefit greatly if the date of the special election for the PA Senate 42nd District was set to May 17, 2005. Please do what you can so as to schedule the special election to occur on the same day as the Primary Election rather than as a day unto itself in February, March or April.

The cost savings for the taxpayers would be significant. The senate's district stretches from Baldwin to the city and out to the airport. The large district calls for many workers. These expenses are paid by the county and refunded by the state could be totally avoided. The county and state have better uses for those funds. The district has 250 districts at a cost of $800 each for a total expense of $200,000.

Rushing into the election shortens the campaign cycle and diminishes the opportunities to raise issues, debate positions, discuss solutions, and create better understanding and relationships within our communities and region.

The divide between the city and county has grown into a massive gulf due to abrasive actions from Grant Street and less-than-ideal bailouts from Harrisburg. In many instances it is as if the city is ringed with an iron curtain. Rather, we need to have this campaign be an opportunity to bridge city and county understandings. We need to heal and reverse the dysfunctional strains that pit city and county residents, and their elected leaders, against one another.

+ In Baldwin the Sierra Club and others are in dismay at the city's plans that advocate gambling, the extraction of coal and retail development with Charles Betters and Tom Murphy.

+ Suburban sprawl often clogs the Parkway West as more are being pushed from the inner city. Extra traffic chokes suburban streets. These are lose-lose situations and many others are seeking to raise money with $52 commuter taxes.

We have witnessed divisiveness. A range of issues add fuel the fighting: WPIAL/City League sports; RAD Tax; Transportation; MagLev; US Airways; Airport Development, and so on.

If the election is to be rushed to occur in 60 or even 75 days, the community can't rally to call for forums, hold in-depth discussions and work together in earnest, meaningful ways. Cramming the date sooner into the calendar hurts our opportunities to flourish as a region. We should cherish the interactions among candidates and community before votes are cast. May 18, 2005, is 119 days after the seat opens given the intended January 18, 2005 resignation of existing office holder.

Another matter to raise: prosperity. Nobody creates wealth by sitting at a polling place for 13 hours to handle a trickle of voters on special election days. Thousands of hours are absorbed in polling duties by many good neighbors. Rather these people should better invest their precious time with work, volunteer efforts, family time, school assistance and starting new businesses. I'd rather see a day of neighbor helping neighbor, improved fitness or even snow removal rather than the time and energy sink of a special election -- even with my name on the ballot.

I'd be embarrassed to NOT speak out as best I can on this matter. Democracy is messy. Politics is complicated. But voting is simple. The easy, simple and more direct path calls for the special election for the 42nd on May 17. Let's have a dual election. As the others are headed to the polls for the primary, we'll pick a senator too.

As I understand, Allegheny County's Department of Elections budgeted for the election's cost. An overtime investment into the election process should do different tasks.

1. Let's spend a small portion with mechanics to insure functional voting machines.

2. Let's recruit and train poll workers. Today's workers are great, but they are not getting any younger. We need to deepen and widen the pool of workers.

3. Let's speed the result certification so the new state senator from PA's 42nd is able to take the oath of office and join with colleagues within days after the election. Let's provide for overtime work, if necessary, after the election to get the new senator on the job. I will want to get to work on time. It would be better to delay the election by six weeks and work hard on the back-end to certify the vote's results in hours or days.

The 2004 PA Senate stood with a 30-20 party margin. A delayed election in the 42nd won't impact the balance of power in that chamber nor would it impact upon any super-majority necessary to override a veto. The politics of picking the election date is minimized, hence the practical matters are maximized.

Two special elections in eastern Pennsylvania could occur sooner, if need be. However, I'd love for them to be delayed to May 17, 2005, as well. Hence, the suggested savings nets a three-fold increase.


Anonymous said...

I agree that there is absolutely no need to hold a special election prior to the Primary on May 17. Your estimate of special election costs are accurate. I will share your email with the Lieutenant Governor and the Senate Democratic Leadership. Thanks for your concerns.


Salvatore M. Sirabella
Office of Lieutenant Governor
Catherine Baker Knoll
200 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-0002
717 787-3300 (phone)
717 783-0150 (fax)

Anonymous said...


..I've been thinking:

..poll workers get paid, don't they?
..if so, they probably welcome the extra election day..

..if they don't get paid, then disregard this, but if they do,

1. ..then it might be feasible to explicitly lay-out that the "paid" time get moved from the extra day/election to post-Primary Day validating/expediting, as you mention, leaving out that people (might) have better things to do with their time (than getting paid?), but still giving
some the paid time.

2. ..you might try to enlist the cooperation of all other candidates in the interest (and good publicity for those who join in)) of saving the taxpayers(voters) money and the extra effort to go to the polls twice, instead of just the once.

--of course another candidate may have a different agenda/strategy in a hurry-up election which denies lesser-known candidates opportunity to get exposure, and/or to avoid time to get the issues into the public forum and consciousness..