We are all constituents...
May 08, 2014 | 1472 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am writing in regard to Merrie Knutson’s letter (The true constituents...) in last week’s Times-Independent,

There was one correct sentence. A constituent is a person who authorizes another to act in his or her behalf. Her contention appears to be that if you didn’t vote for a particular candidate, they don’t represent you. So put up or shut up.

Let me remind you, there are plenty of people who don’t vote that our elected officials are tasked with representing.

Children under the age of 18 don’t vote; citizens who, by reason of mental disabilities that lack the power to make a decision, don’t vote. But every elected official is required to make decisions that are in the best interest of those citizens when crafting policy and law. Regardless if the citizen voted for them or contributed to their campaign or shares their opinion.

In our community, we have neighbors and friends who are second-home-owners or who live in Grand County part of the year. More than likely they don’t vote here, but they still have an interest and stake in how our community develops. They pay higher taxes, in many cases, than those of us who live here all year. They contribute to the fabric of our community and bring diversity and vibrancy to it. They still deserve to be heard.

There are those who simply don’t vote, by choice or by circumstance, but they still have voice and they are still constituents and are represented. It is sad if it is by choice and they don’t fulfill their civic responsibility, but they are not marginalized.

The idea so often touted is that if one is a fifth- or sixth- or seventh-generation resident of someplace his or her voice or opinion is worth more than someone who isn’t. To that I say “Hogwash.” I’m an eighth-generation Utahn; my ancestors were here in July of 1847. I don’t get, nor do I deserve, more voice in Utah issues than someone who has lived here two years or two months.

I can’t imagine an elected official who would choose to speak only with those citizens who voted for him/her, or only with those who share the same opinions or ideals. Our elected officials represent all of us, not just the citizens who voted for them.

My late father-in-law, Norman G. Boyd, former mayor of Moab, had a philosophy that when you are tasked with making a decision that involves the public, “if you anger (he used a more colorful phrase) 10 percent of the people on either side of an issue then you’ve probably made a good decision for the majority of people.” He knew that even his political foes were his constituents.

—Tawny Boyd


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