A plea for citizen involvement

Published 2:38 pm Thursday, November 10, 2016

The election has taken place. Throughout the campaigns, there were a lot of voters for “the lesser of two bad choices.” People talked passionately about why the “other” candidate was bad, but not seem to be able to say a lot of good about their choice. People had opinions and were quick to express their feelings about the national and state elections. I will say, whoever won Tuesday, I hope we can heal as a nation. I also hope we all take a renewed interest in government and not wait until the next election to get involved.

Let your passion for better government start at home in your county. Maybe it’s harder because everyone knows everyone and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I understand, but do you want your children and grandchildren to pay because you didn’t speak up?

Elected officials were elected by the people and took an oath of office. At any point, if they don’t want to serve, they can step down. As well, if they do not uphold the duties of the office and break laws, they can be removed.

I am limited to the length of this column; what I say at board of supervisors’ meetings is not recorded in the minutes. So, it is tough to tell you about much. I have to put out a little at a time. So here’s another tidbit on the Heartland Industrial Facilities Authority.

In October, The Dispatch quoted Charlotte County Supervisor Gary Walker’s explanation for the criticism of meeting minutes not being recorded. He said they had to lay off staff in 2008 and now rely on “volunteers.” First, according to code, minutes are required to be kept. During these same years, there were numerous grant requests written. So, there was not available staff to keep required minutes but there was staff to request more state, federal and other grant monies?

As to the idea the people serving are volunteers: no, they are not. They are elected supervisors. Walker is paid $500 a month, gets a free lunch offered to him before board meetings and gets free health, dental, vision and life insurance. R.B. Clark, as Charlotte County administrator, the other representative, is paid a very lucrative salary, contributions to state pension and deferred compensation pension funds, a county-owned vehicle to drive and all the free insurances and lunches Walker gets.

Please, citizens, get involved. Don’t let politicians speak and not be questioned, certainly not in your own backyard.

Kay Periantoni is a Wylliesburg resident. Her email address is kmpierantoni@gmail.com.