Much too often we do not hold our elected officials accountable in their voting records. Citizens also have a responsibility in accountability — that is, they need to be active participants in citizenship by paying attention to what is going on and by voting. Too often citizens are not accountable when they fail to vote, especially on the local and state levels.
The media could do a better job of tracking votes by our elected officials. We are thinking chiefly about our state and federal members of legislative bodies. It is the media’s responsibility to inform citizens of how their representatives voted on bills. We could do a better job. For small weeklies who do not belong to the Associated Press or some other reporting service, it’s difficult. One reason The Missourian joined the Associated Press more than 50 years ago was to have a source for news in the state capitol.
It was good to learn that the Washington Area Highway and Transportation Committee plans to invite area lawmakers to a meeting to express their concern over the legislature’s failure to pass a transportation bill that would permit voters to cast ballots on a sales tax increase for transportation. There was support from several of the area legislators but not 100 percent. The Washington Civic Industrial Corporation also has invited area lawmakers to a meeting so that group can express its interest in economic development legislation. It probably is that organizations such as these, too small to hire a lobbyist, have not been forceful enough in expressing their interests and concerns.
We need to know the voting records of the people we send to Jefferson City and Washington, D.C. In too many instances, people we elect have their own agendas and do not vote in the best interests of the majority of the people they represent.
Some elected officials do conduct surveys to determine the positions of their constituents on major issues. Many do not.
We need to be more accountable ourselves in meeting our responsibilities as involved citizens by letting our elected officials know where we stand. It is encouraging to see two Washington groups living up to their responsibilities by trying to schedule meetings with elected officials to inform them of their interests, needs and priorities.