To educate the voter, or not
Opponents of the Home Depot in Frisco shouldn’t be too upset about the town council’s decision to put the question on the ballot in December.If the town council absolutely wished to convince voters of the benefits of a Home Depot, it would have passed Councilmember Tom Looby’s amendment asking for time to invest in impact studies.If Looby’s request passed, Home Depot could have taken enough time to present a convincing argument to voters on how, and why, the big box won’t impact our economy, our environment and our neighbors. It didn’t pass. So voters have until Dec. 13 to educate themselves, and seek out the arguments of why Home Depot is good or bad.For now, both arguments will be general. A formal plan for the project won’t likely be put together until after a successful vote. And, without a formal plan for the project, accurate impact assessments can never be made. Without those assurances to Frisco residents, the project loses ammunition.Waiting until the vote to conduct a detailed study prevents voters from making truly informed choices.It was interesting, too, that earlier in the day, the Frisco council heard the argument on how an educated voter will likely vote for something if they clearly understand what they’re voting for – if the idea is truly in the public good.The Summit Housing Authority (SHA) brought this idea in front of the council. In a recent election, voters rejected a tax to help fund affordable housing in the community.The SHA followed up and found that, in most cases, people were unsure of what they were voting on. Representatives from SHA encouraged the council to educate first, then place things on the ballot.Yet, here we are. Dec. 13 will be another interesting test on the power of knowledge in the ballot box. The unknowns, at this point, far outweigh what is known about a big-box development. It’s difficult to reach any conclusion from Tuesday’s vote, but that the council is, at best, ambivalent about developing the 9.4-acre parcel.
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