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“Until then, No”

Posted: September 21, 2012 7:16 p.m.
Updated: September 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The citizens must be able to trust their elected officials. Where there is basic mistrust, conflict results. The citizens and registered voters in Camden signed a petition in great numbers to have a petition statement placed on the ballot.

This petition, drawn under the direction of an experienced attorney, was submitted to the mayor and city council in late January. Only Councilman Willard Polk has been supportive of these efforts to have the petition placed on the ballot.

The city council and mayor have ignored this request, which appears to be a major violation of the citizens right to petition their government, until late summer when the city did sue the Camden Recreation Referendum Coalition [CRRC] to keep the citizens referendum statement off the ballot.

A group of citizens in the city appears to support the construction of a sports complex, built with public funds, which would be operated by a third party such as the Columbia Y. Some in this group have posted yard signs which seem to have the support of some city officials, and appeared to be endorsed by the YMCA with the official Y logo on the sign. When information was provided to the National YMCA and the Columbia Y, they both denied association with the sign. The person who made initial contact with the National YMCA was not a member of the CRRC board. Despite the fact that the Y has asked that the signs be removed, it appears that the group may only be altering the sign with removal of the Y logo.

The city has placed what it calls a substitute referendum statement on the ballot.

It appears that the city leaders may be misleading their own group of supporters who endorse voting Yes to the Y in November. The petition the city has offered on the ballot may well be ruled invalid or overturned since there is a pending lawsuit -- the one brought by the City itself.

That possibility will have all the voters in Camden confused. That includes the group of Camden for the Y supporters who may believe the city’s ballot question is the final answer.

Until the city leaders begin to listen to the nearly 1,700 registered voters who call for a referendum all voters will be advised to vote “No” on the city’s weak, watered-down, and non-binding ballot question in November.

Camden is a small town. Those on both sides of the issue are friends. Our children play together. This issue should not be one to cause broken friendships. We all want improved recreational opportunities for us and our children. We all want Camden to grow and be an attractive home for new-comers. Our leaders can do that by working cooperatively with its citizens and abandoning personal agendas.

Until then, No.

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