Walk out of your house and take a look around. Is the street paved? Why not? Did they pick up the trash this week? Is there a park near your house where you can take your children or your pets? Is the bar on the corner operating without a liquor license?
Wherever we look, municipal governments have a major role and broad impact on our daily lives, from wear on our tires to Saturday beers.
The headlines in this September print edition take a look at that impact. While in Nicoya, the city council decided to limit construction near the Ostional wildlife refuge (pleasing some and angering others), Liberia residents had to scream at city council meetings to defeat the parking meter project, albeit it too late because if they are eliminated the city will have to pay millions of colons to the company that installed them.
Whether good or bad decisions, the majority of those responsible are representatives and mayors who are often men who we elect every four years.
While Guanacaste is, as the front page story says, the province with the highest voter turnout in the country, in certain cities we are letting others vote for us.
Liberia, for example, had the lowest voter turnout in the province for city elections in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2016. Ever election, fewer than three of every 10 people vote. That’s 10 people giving their voting power to just two or three of them in the canton with the largest budget in Guanacaste.
It’s indispensable that we start talking about politics today and understand where we came from, what characterized us in the past and where we are going. We need to understand that women still don’t occupy all the positions elected by voters that they could because the system is still very weak in terms of encouraging it. We should also know that there is a new wave mixing religion with politics and that now politicals speeches aren’t just given in public plazas but also from the pulpit.
Just like we have the right to complain when we want cheaper parking meters, we have n important responsibility to understand, share and talk. It’s our obligation to participate now in public discussions and promote an environment that encourages more people to get involved in politics and help oil the political party machines so they commit to presenting candidates, male and female, who are well-prepared for the job. Right now, with the newspaper in hand, you are beginning to exercise that responsibility.