Now that we are approaching the next presidential election, there have been several moments that have made me question the election process, the elected candidates and the policies that are being passed on the state and federal level. A few months ago, I made a promise to myself to get more involved in local policy and to stay informed. I started by reading all the Measures and Propositions, writing down questions and noting my concerns. Next, I looked up each of the representatives from my city and read all the policies they have worked on, all the policies that were passed, and the ones that were vetoed. Many things have sparked a renewed interest in the vetoing process as I think about accountability and holding elected officials to a higher standard while they make decisions for those who vote them in. When I heard about the Flint water crisis in Michigan, the Standing Rock water protectors, voter suppression in North Carolina, and questionable remarks by current presidential candidates, I decided to be proactive.
I assumed that if I voted, the official would have my best interest in mind. What I failed to understand is that there are many interests. For example, currently on the ballot for the state of California is Measure M. Measure M is a plan to:
- Improve freeway traffic flow and safety
- Repair potholes and sidewalks
- Repave local streets
- Retrofit bridges
- Synchronize signals
- Keep senior, disabled and student fares affordable
- Expand rail and subway systems
- Improve job, school and airport connections
- Create jobs
The Los Angeles County plan will increase sales tax by half a cent. The estimated revenue from Measure M is expected to generate $860 million a year in 2017. The proposed projects will be built over a 40-year period.
What is interesting about Measure M is that it is for all of Los Angeles County, which consists of 88 cities. Each city has its own set of challenges when it comes to traffic improvement. The city I live in will use the funding to improve roads and fix potholes. The City of Los Angeles, specifically the Crenshaw district, will use the funding to complete a metro line that goes through the district area. However, this will create an issue for the “mom and pop” businesses that have been there many years and are a major part of how the district thrives. It will also take away from the land use, street parking, access, and threaten the livelihood of many local businesses. This is just one example.
My background in public administration helps me understand the impact of Measure M. However, it is very disturbing that how funding effects one city doesn’t impact another city in the same county. I wonder if this is the best way to exercise the use of the funding. Maybe there is a better way to vote on what effects millions of people.
What I do know is that everyone has a different vision of how Measure M will impact them. Some good, some not so good. So how do we fix the outcomes? How do we make policies more inclusive so that I can vote of Measure M in my area, but it will not negatively impact residents in another district?
Submitted by Shirmel Hayden