Allow council members to do their jobs
Constituents elect their officials to represent them in making decisions.
That is how our representative democracy form of government is intended to work. When residents are dissatisfied with how elected officials are representing them — which is bound to happen — they may speak loud and clear at the polls.
It’s wrong when, after the voting majority has duly elected an official, the public counters that public official’s decisions by adding referendums to the ballot. That is what Newton Falls residents are threatening to do.
These residents are dissatisfied with some of village council’s decisions on spending.
Last week dozens of angry residents, some holding signs, told village council they are tired of the way officials are spending money to buy a church for a new administration building and a $3.1 million water meter replacement project.
Residents called the spending “outrageous” and accused council members of lacking responsibility.
Hooray! We applaud residents for speaking out, for raising questions and attempting to hold their elected officials accountable.
Unfortunately, however, the protests did not stop there.
We rarely, if ever, take issue with members of the public who attend public meetings or share their opinions. Indeed, that is a right we, in America, enjoy and should take advantage of more often.
However, we object to plans by residents to circulate referendum petitions to place on the ballot issues including the village’s planned meter replacement project and whether to make the part-time law director contract full-time, at a $55,000 annual salary and health insurance.
Some residents also are protesting the village council’s decision to purchase the First Congregational Church building for $250,000 and then spend up to $145,000 more to fix it up for use as an administration building.
“Any action of council is subject to referendum, and we will take it to court,” one resident said.
That may be the case, but let’s not forget that voters elected these officials to make decisions for them. Indeed, sometimes voters agree with their elected officials, sometimes they don’t.
But taking every issue to the ballot will do little more than bog down the flow of the governmental process.
Residents dissatisfied with council’s decisions should come to meetings and voice their opinions. They should call or email their elected officials. They should write letters to the editor of this newspaper or establish campaigns for opponents at election time.
They should not, however, put decisions on specific issues on the ballot as referendums.
Allow council members to do the job they were elected to do.