Many frequent voters will shortly be getting a letter on the public safety sales tax proposal signed by the mayor and all of the City Council except myself. I signed the letter; however you won’t see my name on the letter. Here’s what happened…

Many frequent voters will shortly be getting a letter on the public safety sales tax proposal signed by the mayor and all of the City Council except myself. I signed the letter; however you won’t see my name on the letter. Here’s what happened…

Following Monday night’s council meeting, Mayor Ross had a letter encouraging citizens to vote on the public safety sales tax proposal. The mayor signed the letter and wanted the City Council to follow. The letter was positive and I supported the message, but it was paid for by a campaign committee. I asked why this wasn’t on official city of Blue Springs letterhead. The mayor said “That would not be legal.” It’s not legal for government to use time, facilities, staff or resources in attempts to persuade the outcome of elections.

If it’s not legal to use my city title and sign a letter on official city of Blue Springs letterhead, does switching the stationary make it OK? It didn’t for me, so I signed the letter “Ron Fowler – Private Citizen.” However, my elected colleagues wouldn’t sign the letter I signed. They signed a second letter. The only way I was welcome to sign was using my official city councilman title, which felt inappropriate. This wasn’t official city stationary; it was a campaign committee’s stationary requiring finance disclosure. To me, using my City Council title was an implied way of circumventing the spirit of the law separating government from intervening in elections.

While I respect the different opinions my colleagues have, using my elected title wasn’t a line I was willing to cross. This is disappointing. While I respect the differences, my elected colleagues didn’t respect the difference in opinion I had about signing as a “Private Citizen.” Title or not, it’s the same signature.

Over my tenure on City Council, this is the first time I’ve ever voted in favor of a sales tax proposal, yet it doesn’t look that way by reviewing the campaign committee’s second letter signed by my elected colleagues only.

The City Council seat and title aren’t mine. They belong to the citizens of Blue Springs. I’m a representative and I don’t have the citizens’ authority to pick one campaign committee over another. By signing as a private citizen I’m not trying to represent my district or make it look like official city business. By signing as a private citizen, I’m trying to support our police while respecting the spirit of the law which protects government intervention in elections.

As a public official, my job isn’t telling anyone how to vote. My job is carrying out the voting decisions you make.

Your opportunity to make that voting decision is April 5.