Silencing Minority

Over time and across issues political power shifts. Those who enjoy being a part of majority today may find themselves in a minority position tomorrow. But what allows democracy to thrive even when we are not all on the same page is that a minority has the opportunity to have its voice heard.

By introducing a change to the rule of how many councilmembers it takes to advance an item onto the Council agenda, Councilmember Oravits wants to silence the minority voice. Changing the current rule of 3 votes needed to have a discussion about an issue during a Council meeting to 4 would not only prevent a councilmember to bring attention to many issues important to her or his constituents, but, importantly, curb the ability of individual citizens to successfully petition the Council to place a future agenda item for Council’s consideration.

The argument expressed by councilmember Oravits is that we should focus on issues that already have majority support and not waste our time. Good governing includes consideration of and discussion about issues that citizens deem important regardless of our personal perspectives. Good governing means that even a minority of councilmembers should have the opportunity to persuade the majority about the legitimacy of their request. But without a dialog that is not possible.

The argument that the Council does not have time to discuss issues important to fewer than four┬ácouncilmembers is baseless. Since the summer recess, the Council meetings were canceled twice for lack of agenda items. We certainly have time to hear those we don’t always agree with. I urge you to email the Council at council@flagstaffaz.gov and ask that the rule of 3 is not changed in order to advance future agenda items onto the Council’s regular meetings.