In God We Trust…The Rest Show Data

By: Noel A. Pinnock, MPA

In the Beginning…God created the heavens and earth (Gen. 1:1). Our faith in God, man and country is predicated upon this unequivocal foundation. This foundation applies to everyone despite race, color, and creed and it is upon this foundation that the common notion of loving our fellow neighbor exists. Unfortunately, some of our residents in Missouri City have varying perspectives on loving their neighbors. Some believe that one can love the neighbors who look like them and believe in the same things (s)he believes in, while others are more transparent and accepting of the strength that comes from embracing the diversity in our communities.

When we examine our city’s landscape, it is easy to conclude that Missouri City is not only one of the fastest growing cities in Fort Bend County but also a city of many nations and languages. So, why is there such a chasm that continues to split our communities and send a resonating perception that we are more divided than we are united (not just on the issues)? Based on the data I collected from the City of Missouri City’s website, our city’s statistics show in 2009 that Missouri City is getting younger, smarter, and continuously growing, partly due to families that find it easy to commute to an array of destination spots to include quality schools.  A good friend of mine, Gerry Fusco, coined a great phrase, “In God we trust but the rest show data,” and after looking at the data, I am shocked that the turnout in our local elections was so low during this and previous election cycles.

I am of the persuasion that local politics hit our rooftops and businesses the hardest and fastest and that should be the major reason our residents feel compelled to help shape our city’s future. Our city leaders have been at the helm for many years and they have a wealth of history that helps continue to keep us moving forward; however, for the past five years, there have been opportunities to help bring individuals to the fray that would have offered a variety of new perspectives to help meet the ever-evolving demands of our diverse families, businesses, and communities at-large. We can no longer sit on the fence of fatigue and allow apathy to set precedents in our local landscape. James Madison, one of our founding forefathers, in Federalist Paper #51, coined a powerful pithy, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” What does he mean? Well, he is emphasizing that the ambition of government must be counteracted by the ambition of its electorate, you and me – the people.  If there is no counteraction, then one will supersede the other.

Take a quick look at the demographics in the chart below and ask yourself a question, is Missouri City prepared to meet the demands of our today and tomorrow?

Figure 1
Demographics
Statistics (Est.)
Family Size
3 per household
Owned Housing Units
87%
Home Value
S160K
Median Household Income
$91K
Household Income
$75,000 – 149,000
40% of our families
Median Age
36 (yrs. old)
Age Range
15-64
68% of our residents
Sex
Male = 48%
Female = 52%
Ethnicity
White Alone 38.8%
Black Alone 37.1%
American Indian Alone 0.3%
Asian or Pacific Islander Alone 14.0%
Some Other Race Alone 7.5%
Two or More Races 2.4%
Educational Attainment
Less Than 9th Grade 3.7%
9th to 12th Grade, No Diploma 4.5%
High School Graduate 17.6%
Some College, No Degree 20.9%
Associate Degree 7.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 30.1%
Graduate/Professional Degree 15.8%
Less Than 9th Grade 3.7%
9th to 12th Grade, No Diploma 4.5%
Marital Status
Married 62.4%
Never Married 25.6%
Widowed 3.6%
Divorced 8.4%
Occupation (White Collar = 75%)
Management/Business/Financial 19.5%
Professional 29.7%
Sales 12.9%
Administrative Support 13.5%
Occupation (Blue Collar & Services = 25%)
Farming/Forestry/Fishing 0.0%
Construction/Extraction 3.2%
Installation/Maintenance/Repair 2.2%
Production 3.7%
Transportation/Material Moving 4.1%
Farming/Forestry/Fishing 0.0%
Construction/Extraction 3.2%
More Data http://www.missouricitytx.gov/Businesses/Economic-Development/Demographics
Source: Missouri City 2009

According to  “http://hnn.us/articles/1161.html” History News Network: “Most citizens are not psychologically prepared to pay close attention to a campaign when Election Day is months away. Yet, because it has been going on for months, they are also not highly attentive when it is only weeks away. By campaign’s end, they will even have forgotten much of what they had learned earlier. In 2000, for example, Americans knew less about George W. Bush’s position on gun control in October than they had known in February. Overall, our research indicates that the college-educated electorate of today is no better informed and, by some indicators, is less informed than the high-school-educated electorate of fifty years ago. Changes in the voting laws would also help. For one thing, polling hours should be extended. Amidst the uproar over ballot irregularities in Florida in 2000, no commentator saw fit to ask why the polls in that state closed at 7 p.m. local time. Florida is one of twenty-six states that shut down their polls before 8 p.m. Not surprisingly, turnout in these states is several percentage points below that of states where the polls are open until 8 p.m. or later. Limits on polling hours go back decades and have been a convenient way to discourage the participation of lower-income workers who are stuck at their jobs during the day. Turnout would likely also increase if Election Day was declared a national holiday, as the National Commission on Federal Election Reform has recommended. The United States is nearly alone among western democracies in holding its elections on a workday instead of on a holiday or weekend. Turnout is depressed by the fact that most people have little choice but to vote before or after work, and then within limited polling hours.”

In most humble opinion, polling hours do have a direct impact on voting turnout but conducting elections in May only catalyzes voter suppression and fatigue. I have been watching HB 1545 relating to the authority of certain political subdivisions to change the date of their general elections to the uniformed month in November and it has passed the Senate and soon will become law. I was a bit confused as to its applicability and have reached out to our state legislators for clarification.

(For more info, visit:  http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Actions.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1545

I will close this editorial slightly different than I started…In God we trust, the rest must vote.

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