Western Michigan University students who vote in Tuesday, Nov. 3 elections should enter the voting booth with a positive mindset.
There are two proposals on the ballot that require a simple yea/nay vote, and we feel both deserve to be supported with a resounding “yes.”
The first would renew funding for Metro Transit bus lines within the city limits. On the block is a .6 mill levy that would keep the buses running for another three years. Combined with the .4 mill county-wide vote that passed this spring, taxpayers will actually be paying less than the 1.3 mill total seen in the past.
Metro Transit is a key program for the city that provides residents (and many students) with transportation for work, school and errands about town. Although funding for county-wide services such as Care-A-Van and Metro Van was approved in May’s elections, another millage now must be approved to ensure the buses stay on route in the city.
Without a renewed millage, Metro Transit will find it difficult to continue operations within the city limits for much longer. We understand that money is tight these days but shutting down public transportation will only have a negative impact on the local economy overall. Not only that, but by supporting the transit millage we can ensure that thousands of our fellow citizens have access to a reliable means of transportation.
Metro Transit and WMU have worked together over the years to provide fare-free transport for students. It is time those students returned the favor by showing up to the polls and voting “YES” on the millage proposal.
The Kalamazoo Non-Discrimination Ordinance, also known by its blander title “ordinance 1856,” does not involve a millage, or any taxes. All it aims to do is extend basic guarantees of equality and fairness to gay and transgender members of our community who still remain vulnerable to discrimination.
As it stands now, Kalamazoo residents can legally be fired from their job or denied housing on the basis of their sexual orientation. Ordinance 1856 aims to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of employment, housing and public accommodation.
Similar laws are already on the books in Michigan cities such as Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Kalamazoo’s gay and transgender community deserves the same opportunity to succeed as anyone else. While it is sad that such protection has to be explicitly legislated, it is up to individual municipalities to provide it.
One Kalamazoo, an organization that has been working in favor of this legislation, keeps its campaign headquarters in the Wesley Foundation, located in the Peace Center on campus. Anyone who has questions or wants to learn more about Ordinance 1856 and why it is necessary can visit any time before Tuesday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. On Monday, Nov. 2 there will be a rally outside the Peace Center to gather support for the Non-Discrimination Ordinance.
This ordinance was originally passed unanimously in 2008 by the Kalamazoo City Commission, but some members of the community collected enough signatures to require it be repealed and opened up to popular vote. The emotionally stunted backwardness of this outcry would be laughable if it weren’t so heartbreaking. People actually protested an anti-discrimination ordinance, and won.
These opponents of non-discrimination — sorry, double negative, let’s fix that – proponents of discrimination argue that employers and landlords have the right to choose who they employ or rent to. However, there is a long-standing precedent in America that we as voters can determine that discrimination against a group of people in such matters is wrong. This is one of those cases.
Opponents of Ordinance 1856 can shake their fists and yell at the 21st century to get off their lawn, but as soon as they step inside to catch that “All in the Family” rerun on TV Land the world will pass them by. It may even lap them. If we want to even attempt this whole post-modern, fair and just society thing progress must continue on Nov. 3.
Progress means a “YES” vote on continuing public transportation, and a “YES” vote for protecting gay and transgender civil rights. Take a few minutes on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to go to the polls and cast a ballot you can be proud of now and in the future. Vote YES.