Two and a half years ago, my late husband, Major Brent Taylor, co-authored a letter to the editor quite similar to the one I now write.
In it, Brent (who was then serving as the mayor of North Ogden City) voiced his support for what is now presented on our ballots as Proposition 3 — a vote to call for a study to evaluate our current form of county government. Brent was one of the bipartisan founders of the “Weber County Forward” movement and felt quite strongly that our form of county government should be studied — and now.
Our current form of county government gives our county commissioners all legislative AND executive power. Voting FOR Proposition 3 will allow a study to review whether or not it’s time to move to a form of county government that honors our Constitution’s call for a separation of powers.
Our current form of county government puts that same combined legislative and executive power in the hands of only three at-large elected officials. Voting FOR Proposition 3 will allow a study to review whether or not it’s time to move to a form of county government that is more representative of our growing and increasingly diverse population.
Those who oppose Proposition 3 have argued that we don’t need to study our current form of county government because the form we have works fine and is very efficient. Under our current form of county government, it takes only two commissioners to agree on any given county issue in order for that issue to get passed. That is very efficient. But if all we wanted was efficiency, we could just put a dictator in place and let one individual call all the shots.
I’ve also heard those who oppose Proposition 3 making the argument that we can’t afford to study our current form of government and evaluate whether or not it’s time for a change. I whole-heartedly disagree.
We cannot afford NOT to initiate the study. We cannot afford to continue to pay the salaries and benefits packages of three full-time commissioners if we are not even willing to take a step back and look at whether or not that form of county government should continue to be funded.
We cannot afford to let only three individual citizens continue leading all the discussions and making all the decisions on behalf of over a quarter million of us if we don’t even know if that form of county government is the best approach to truly establishing our county with a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
How can we know if a three-commissioner form of county government is our best option for local governance if it is the only option we are willing to consider?
In the words of my late husband, taken from the Op Ed he co-authored two and a half years ago:
“Our call for a study to change the form of government is based solely on the principles of representation and separation of powers; ... We want the people of Weber County to have the opportunity to decide if changing our form of government is the right step.”
And now let me speak personally about whether or not we can afford to pursue true democracy and truly representative governments and our constitutional freedoms.
When, in the history of this country have we, the people, ever decided something based on the cheap and easy route? When have the American people ever shied away from asking difficult questions in order to find the best solutions? When have our proud forebearers ever insisted on “business as usual” rather than doing what it takes to further insure the rights to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of all people?
My husband and thousands of other men and women in uniform have given their very lives in an attempt to spread democracy and representative governments and our constitutional freedoms around the world. It could be argued that the American approach to spreading such liberties isn’t very efficient. And it could be argued that we cannot afford to pay the price tag of such endeavors. Yes, it can be argued that the price of freedom is immeasurably high.
But we cannot afford to ever argue that the price is not worthy of being paid.
I strongly encourage all residents of Weber County to vote FOR Proposition 3. I strongly encourage you to vote FOR the study that will evaluate our current form of county government and discover if it leaves any room for improvement. I strongly encourage you to vote FOR this opportunity to step back and question whether or not our current form of county government gives the best voice to “we, the people” that are intended to be served by that government.