The election held by the Greater Hilltop Area Commission (GHAC) on Oct. 7 is failing the residents. It is flawed in a number of ways, causing confusion and an overall lack of representation.
The city designed specific zones in the city into 21 area commissions. The Greater Hilltop Area Commission is the largest with over 10,000 residents. The area has both urban and suburban areas, with significantly unique needs. Commissions are tasked with approving/denying zoning requests, requesting capital improvements in the community, working to determine who should receive a liquor permit, empowered to sell city owned properties, etc. Although the decisions made by the commissions are not binding, the city does take the input seriously.
For many years, GHAC held elections at the bean dinner, where many residents attend each year. For some unknown reason, GHAC independently decided to hold their elections on a different date than the general election as many other area commissions do. This decision wasn’t to accommodate the crowds of voters at the bean dinner. Rather, they decided to hold the election on a random day. No longer held at the historical bean dinner, not held on election day, just a random day that they chose. The commission decides how many signatures are needed for a candidate’s petition. The commission decides how candidates should apply, requesting an essay and campaign video. There is no candidate forum, or meet and greet. Instead, tech savvy people are advantaged over those who aren’t. The average person might be intimidated by the requirement to submit a campaign video.
The commission further decides where to hold the election. The ballots were unchecked by candidates to confirm accuracy. The ballots had a candidates’ name misspelled. Once the error was discovered, the solution was to hand correct the error on the remaining ballots. Tampering with the ballots in any election is typically considered fraud.
The commission also decides whether the election is fair. A candidate is given three days to contest the election, and GHAC itself makes the determination if they need to hold another due to any problems. They get to set the rules, and then they also get to decide if they were fair. Elections matter.