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May 2001
Turn out the YES votes!
By John Paul Galles

Business owners, managers and executives can provide the necessary leadership to keep Charlotte moving forward and ensure the passage of this referendum by organizing and encouraging a “YES” vote. 

Someone once said there are two things that you should not watch being made — laws and sausage. If you watch them being made, you won’t want to swallow either one! We may not be happy with all the component parts of this combined package. We may not like the way this issue has developed.  We may not like the Hornets’ ownership. Regardless of what you may not like, the desirability and necessity of the combined package override the individual concerns.

Traditionally, voter turnout in special elections, especially in non-election years, is minimal and limited to those who take a special interest in those elections. It is also generally the case that special elections involving proposed public funding are more likely to attract a higher number of negative voters than favorable. Given these considerations, passing this referendum, no matter how good an idea it seems, is not a fait accompli. It should be regarded as an uphill battle to educate the public on the enormous impact it will have on the future of Charlotte as well as the benefits of the combined package, and alleviate concerns about the revenue flows.

Historically, spring election turnout is low. While Charlotte’s population is recognized by the 2000 census at 540,828, the actual number of registered voters in Mecklenburg County is about 460,000. In city elections in 1999, mayoral votes totaled 87,243 citywide. Primary elections within the county showed about 63,472 voters in May of 1996; 50,631 in May of 1998 and 51,105 in May of 2000. 

Little more than half of those voters, as few as 26,000, may determine such an important issue for Charlotte on June 5th. Less than five percent of the city’s population may have a substantial, deleterious and irreversible effect on the economic future of this great city. All this because certain City Council members promised voters a chance to vote on an arena proposal, relinquishing their leadership responsibilities, yielding crucial decision-making power to the smallest minority of voters much less prepared or equipped to determine the complexity of this matter. This makes it critical for those of us who understand the crucial nature of this referendum to TURN OUT the votes to ensure it succeeds. How can we do that? 

  1. Register to vote and make sure others who support the proposal register. It is so easy.  Simply visit a DMV office, a public library, a post office, municipal buildings or the Board of Elections office. You have until May 11, 2001 to register!

  2. Study the referendum proposal and learn the facts. A good site to check is www.decadeofprogress.com. Speak out in favor of the referendum; explain to others why this referendum should pass.

  3. Promote the passage of the referendum by displaying car signs and yard signs and sending notes to others to vote “YES”.

  4. Convince other business owners to vote “YES” and convince your employees to vote “YES.”

  5. Give your employees an hour off at the beginning, middle or end of the day on June 5th to go to the polls and vote.

  6. Make time to vote on June 5th.  The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.!

  7. Remind those who favor the Uptown Bundled Project to vote on June 5th.

This is not an election to sit and watch. This is one where you will only win if you get involved and make a difference. This referendum presents us all with an extraordinary opportunity to make Charlotte an even better place for our future.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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