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Chris Graham: Keep complaining, Waynesboro, and doing nothing about it

waynesboro2editsA group of residents of the historically African-American Port Republic Road neighborhood in Waynesboro have been raising issue with the city’s plans to extend the South River Greenway through their neighborhood.

In addition to the usual NIMBY (not in my backyard) issues, the sentiment is that while it might be nice to build a greenway, what about other, more immediate needs, like graffiti in the Port Republic Road area that has been a problem for years, and the crumbling Rosenwald Community Center building that bisects the neighborhood.

Legitimate concerns, to be sure. But here’s the thing – why just complain to a newspaper reporter and otherwise do nothing else about it?

The easiest thing to do: vote. Though you wouldn’t think that after looking at voter turnout numbers from the 2012 election cycle.

Voter turnout in the two voting wards on the more economically disadvantaged eastern half of the city – Ward A and Ward C – is historically much, much lower than we see in the more economically prosperous western half, Wards B and D. The Port Republic Road neighborhood is in the heart of the eastern half, which also turns out at much lower rates in city elections every other May compared to elections held in November cycles.

Democrat Barack Obama won the presidential balloting in A and C by 137 total votes in November 2012, of nearly 3,100 votes cast.  For comparison, libertarian City Councilman Frank Lucente won A and C in the May 2012 city elections by 127 votes, of 690 votes cast.

As close as the 2012 city elections were, it stands to reason that if voters in Wards A and C simply voted at the same rate in May as they do in November, then there’d be a change in the composition of City Council.

Maybe then issues like graffiti and crumbling community centers would get attention from City Hall.

As it stands, city leaders pay attention to the concerns raised to them by those who voted them in office.

Sit at home on Election Day, and you lose your right to complain the other 364 days of the year.

Chris Graham is the editor of AugustaFreePress.com. Contact him at augustafreepress2@gmail.com.


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