February 2021
The Vocal Minority Speaks Up
A rant from the bleachers

On a recent Tuesday-morning radio talk show, the day the City Council was to vote on the process for filling the vacancy left by Billie Orr’s resignation, comments by hosts and Council members Steve Sischka and Orr provided insight into the workings of the current Council majority.

Orr stated that she had received a lot of public comments supporting a process that would let the voters decide who would serve out her remaining term, but that they seemed similar, maybe cut-and-pasted, probably from a “special interest group,” implying that they could be ignored. The phrase “vocal minority” was used.

Sischka stated that he was elected by the people but isn’t a “mouthpiece” for the people, which he deems appropriate under our representative form of government. Apparently he feels he represents the voice of the people only until he is elected, again referring to the pesky “vocal minority.”

But then who do they listen to? In the 2019 Prescott Council election Cathey Rusing, labeled a “special-interest candidate,” won overwhelmingly with about 3,000 more votes than the next-nearest candidate, Billie Orr.

I guess that vocal minority struck again, making the statement that they were not happy with the Council’s business as usual.

These Council members made it clear that they would prefer someone they ‘could work with’ rather than one who might have a different opinion. Referring to the current situation in which Council votes often split 5-2, they clutched their pearls over how those ‘other’ two could vote differently and still imagine they were looking out for the good of all. The vocal minority gets in the way again.

Councilman Steve Blair frequently voices anger over the Reasonable Growth Initiative (Prop 400) that the voters put in place, because among other things it requires a supermajority vote of Council on annexations. That vocal minority again, causing trouble.

So it appears that Council is the majority and the citizens the vocal minority.

Later that day the Council took the low road and voted 4-2 for Option A. Four Council members will appoint someone to serve for nearly three years rather than allow the people to decide in this fall’s election — four people against the approximately 15,000 who voted in the last election, about 11,500 of us voting for change. That’s a pretty big vocal minority!

City leadership also put out a timeline for filling the vacancy, essentially all of it playing out behind closed doors in executive session. After significant public outcry they agreed to open part of the process to the public. It appears the vocal minority was dimly heard.

Maybe they’ve realized that the vocal minority may well be a vocal majority. Or perhaps, more cynically, they realize that most of them are running for reelection and should at least pretend they are listening to the voters.

These are fall-election events playing out early, and the public is being actively excluded.

It emphasizes the importance of this year’s election and the opportunity for voters to decide who will represent them and the best interests of Prescott. We can make a change and support the courageous vocal minority now on Council who are standing up for the people of Prescott.

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