Opinion | Tony Jones: Vote based on practicality | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Tony Jones: Vote based on practicality

Tony Jones
Everything in Moderation

The title of this column is “Everything in Moderation,“ a nod to my intention to speak on local political issues from a moderate viewpoint. However, in a blue county like Summit, I have found that moderation must sometimes look awfully red as my columns that have drawn supportive responses were based on more conservative principles like property rights and economic responsibility.

Perhaps my Republican roots are growing out as I consider these issues or perhaps it’s that some proposed policy solutions in Summit County are to the left of what I’d consider moderate. Either way, it does make me wonder what constitutes a moderate position in local politics. For me, voting as a moderate is, at least partially, about a sense of practicality, figuring out what can truly be done to solve problems versus promoting aspirational policy. Good intentions are important, but they don’t pay the bills. I also believe moderate policy is about preserving the rights of all our citizenry, leaving the culture wars to non-governmental debate.

I think that the “figuring out what can be done” part mentioned above is an important aspect of voting that requires effort on the part of voters to understand how their government and the real world actually works. Fortunately, the Summit Daily News has done an excellent job on querying candidates on real world issues facing municipalities, thus providing citizens an opportunity for educating themselves on candidate policy positions. Visit the paper’s website and read those columns to ensure that your vote is as informed as possible.

After informing yourself about the candidate positions, ask yourself:

  • What are their stances on addressing growth issues and what are their thoughts on the value of the tourism industry to this county and the towns they hope to represent?
  • Do they have ideas on how to balance the seemingly competing interests of the calls to address overcrowding and the housing crisis with the need for economic vitality in a county that doesn’t have much non-tourism-based industry to fall back on from a revenue perspective?
  • As candidates speak to these issues, do they do so with plans that are fully formed including methods for funding their solutions?
  • What experiences, in or out of government, do candidates have that will enable them to understand the complex machinations of government and work through difficult policy issues for which there may be no “right” answer, only a way to push things forward that is as equitable for all sides as possible?

I’d also ask voters to be real about voting for “how things used to be.” I’ve heard from long time Summit County residents that the good old days weren’t as great as some would have us believe. Before the tourists, before the second homeowners, Summit County municipalities were struggling financially and starving for the jobs and revenue that these things eventually brought. Do we now have too much of a good thing? Perhaps. But once the genie is out of the bottle, you’ll have better luck navigating the middle road and trying to figure out how to live with this particular genie than trying to stuff him back in the bottle.

And voters, watch out for easy fixes at the ballot box. If the answers to any of these questions were easy, the solutions would likely have already been implemented. If the solutions offered do not require some give on your part, only take from others, be very suspicious and ask yourself, the candidate, or those proposing the ballot initiative the hard questions.

Moderation, it would seem, should neither be left or right leaning. In the context of governance, it should be about understanding the issues that are affecting citizens, issues over which government has legitimate authority and addressing them in a way that proposes to solve the problem with minimal governmental intervention. In navigating to that middle ground, everyone has to give some. Businesses, citizens and government are all in this together – all trying to figure out the best way forward. This will undoubtedly require compromise, the finding of a middle ground, that will preserve the economic vitality Summit County businesses and citizens enjoy while addressing the legitimate concerns that comes with it.

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