Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You + 42 = A Better Lowell

Here's an update to the previous press release from ONE Lowell, posted earlier this week. LTC's own Danny Dang is going to be working on a YouTube short to support the Choice Voting initiative, so look for a future link here on this site.

You + 42 = a Better Lowell: Kick Off on August 9th

On August 9th city reformers who commit to gathering 42 signatures will be meeting in Belvidere to commit to obtaining the remaining signatures needed for the petition to change Lowell’s voting system. The event is part of the Fair Vote Lowell Campaign, an initiative to replace Lowell’s “winner-take-all” system to the more democratic and fair “choice voting” system.

LOWELL, MA July 30, 2009 – On August 9th, dozens of citizens will meet together to commit to a final push in gathering the remaining signatures necessary for reforming Lowell’s antiquated voting system. Reformers will commit to gathering 42 signatures each before the deadline on August 27th for getting the petition on the ballot. Fair Vote Lowell currently has gathered over 2000 signatures but needs 4188 valid signatures to get the petition on the ballot.

On Sunday, August 9th, reformers will be meeting at 25 Fairmount St. in Lowell at 1:00 pm to get their training, petitions, and maps of city areas for them to cover. The event will provide food, drinks, and an opportunity for people to get to know other Lowell reformers. The event is open to all who want to join the Fair Vote Lowell campaign and be part of the You + 42 = a Better Lowell. It is also an opportunity for those who want to sign the petition but have not yet had the opportunity to drop by and sign it! For those who want be part of the You + 42 = a Better Lowell but cannot attend on Sunday, please contact Victoria Fahlberg at 978-654-6957 x 102.

According to Victoria Fahlberg of Fair Vote Lowell, “The good news is that nearly every person we speak with is happy to sign the petition and have voiced a lot of support for Choice Voting. The bad news is that summertime is not the best time for going door to door, as so many people aren’t at home.”

Reformers are frustrated with the current “at-large,” “winner-take-all” voting system that allows for as few as 51% of voters to win up to all 9 city council seats. The remaining 49% of voters often feel that their vote doesn’t count. When that happens, they eventually become discouraged and stop voting. In fact, voter turnout in Lowell has declined from over 70% before adopting the current system to the dismal 26% turnout in the last election. The current system also creates barriers for candidates from smaller neighborhoods, lower income neighborhoods, and diverse neighborhoods from being elected. Finally, it is very expensive for new candidates to run a winning campaign. In 2005 the average cost for first time winning candidates was $31,649 and in 2007 that increased to $42,682.

Fair Vote organizers feel that now is the time for Lowell to revitalize its city government. Many of Lowell’s brightest and most talented residents won’t run for office because the barriers to getting elected feel overwhelming. According to Dayne Lamb, a Fair Vote Lowell reformer and downtown resident, “Choice voting allows everyone in Lowell to win. It levels the playing field for all City Council and School Committee candidates, offering voters a real opportunity to make their vote count whether in support of a new challenger or familiar incumbent. A fair, choice vote system is more representative than our current system and feeling like your vote counts encourages voter turnout. This is good for democracy and will be great for Lowell!”

Again, August 9th is the day for those who want to reform Lowell’s voting system and to join with other committed reformers and make change happen. The location is 25 Fairmount St. in Lowell, meeting time is 1:00pm. All reformers welcome! Lots of good food!

About Fair Vote Lowell:
Fair Vote Lowell is an initiative to increase voter participation, open up opportunities for new candidates, and create local elective bodies that are representative of all residents in Lowell, Massachusetts. Our mission is simple: To transform Lowell's voting system for local elections of city councilors and school committee from the current "Winner take All" system to "Choice Voting", a system that is fair and promotes greater representation for all.

Victoria Fahlberg ONE Lowell978-654-6957

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