No, no, no! The results of an earlier, absentee ballot referendum were on the way. The voters were going to be asked to approve a new resolution to fund the construction of a new high school or new public library. They should have voted yes on the new school to avoid a massive financial catastrophe for the city. Instead, the voters opted to get rid of that new city building, sending the money instead to two separate projects: A new city baseball diamond and a new public library for the surrounding neighborhoods. These were not the only projects funded in the referendum. An equal number of school funds were directed toward upgrading the local high school.
But on this night, the new school was not there.
What’s so interesting about this election is that it’s being reported as a political blunder by the local media for two primary reasons: The voter turnout for that referendum was less than 10%. No other issue had such a low participation rate. That 10% average will rise in coming weeks. But the big vote total means that even though the referendum failed, it still may not be politically viable for the city to proceed with other plans. If the vote were approved, the city has more money to spend. If the referendum was rejected, the city had to start from scratch and build a new school. Of the five local schools included in the new public library, four are in the neighborhood where the referendum was held. No other schools are served by the library. It would have been impossible to get a new library building this cheap, given that these schools have already been budgeted. But I’m not going to worry about the referendum failure as long as local media continue to report on the result in a way that frames it in terms of a lost campaign.
The “I’m not even going to bother telling you this election is not going well for the candidate” narrative is a favorite of politicians. It works in theory, but not in reality. It also works best in elections where everyone has a secret, but common denominator shared by all candidates for office: one or multiple years in elections that are held every four years, that are typically relatively close. The big loser of Tuesday night’s outcome is likely not voters, but politicians. It would be a waste of everyone’s time to continue calling Fulton’s mayor a failed campaigner just because he’s been a lousy campaigner of late.