We put a new opinion poll online this past week. It asks the question “Do you think the Town of Wickenburg should adopt an Ethics Policy?”
Such a policy was recently adopted by the City of Scottsdale to protect the people from the possibility of elected officials or city employees from voting or making decisions that would benefit themselves, family members, or political supporters rather than the city or the voters. In other words, it would prevent elected officials or city employees from using their positions to benefit themselves or grant favors.
Donna Abbott presented the idea of an Ethics Policy in a Town Council meeting back in May. It was initially shot down by the Mayor and several council members who claimed they had received “ethics training.” The policy, however, goes far beyond that. It requires elected officials and town employees to disclose relationships that could impact their objectivity on certain issues. The most obvious of these issues is zoning; with the Mayor and at least one council member having close ties to real estate, many people (90% according to our last poll) think they should not be voting on zoning issues. Yet these people continue to vote on these issues, despite obvious conflicts of interest. And (surprise, surprise) their votes are always in favor of zoning for higher density housing and allowing new development within town limits. Ms. Abbott and others in town believe that an Ethics Policy would prevent the mayor and council members from voting on issues like these, where there is a clear conflict of interest.
Other people seem to think that when a mayor or council member is voted in, the people are saying that they trust that person to vote objectively. This could be true, but with many voters voting on name recognition, the candidate with the most signs or biggest signs (or the signs that appear the longest) — which happen to be the same candidates receiving funding from wealthy supporters, some of whom have real estate interests — often receive the most votes. This is an unfortunate part of the political process, where many people simply don’t have the time or ability to look up candidate information before placing their vote.
What do you think? Vote on the poll in the navigation bar on the right side of this site’s Home page. And you can discuss this poll in our Discussion Forums.
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