It’s very emotional with some people — the Washington annexation proposal on the Aug. 5 ballot. Some people also are having a problem understanding the fact that Washington voters will be given eight ballots. They will vote on annexation on eight individual parcels of land. People in the areas proposed for annexation will vote on only the tract they live in.
The proposal has become very personal. A couple of the anti-annexation leaders don’t like the city because of disagreements that go back generations. They are very bitter people and probably are against most things the city proposes. From more than several, we’ve heard comments such as, “If the city is so bad, as they voice, why do they stay here? Why don’t they move?”
We can’t answer that. But because of the negative things they say about the city, it does cause one to wonder, why do they stay here? Why would they want to live in such a bad place?
The personal attacks aimed at a couple of the city officials have been counterproductive to the opponents’ cause. We’ve heard Washington residents say they weren’t paying too much attention to annexation, but after reading reports of what was said about city officials, they now are going to vote for annexation — all eight tracts. When one opponent called City Administrator Jim Briggs a liar, that did it for some citizens — they now support annexation.
It is a fact that Washington’s city administrator is recognized and respected by his peers as a competent municipal official who has vision. In doing the right thing, toes can be stepped on, and that results in anger and wild and false accusations. The same thing can be said for the mayor and members of the city council.
The city of Washington enjoys a solid reputation as a well-administered municipality that has a solid citizenry, especially marked by volunteerism. There are a few “newcomers” in the areas proposed for annexation who have joined the anti-annexation forces. If the city is so bad, why did they move here? They make remarks that indicate a lack of knowledge of all of the positive things going on in the city. They know nothing of what has gone
on in the past that has labeled Washington as a progressive city.
It is unfortunate that threats have been made to property owners in the city who have allowed “for annexation” signs in their yards. One of the threats we’ve heard was that the sign had better come down or their yards would be destroyed by chemicals or other types of grass-killing products. That is absurd and is criminal if carried through.
It must be pointed out that there is support for annexation in the areas proposed to be added to the city, but those people don’t want to anger their neighbors who oppose annexation. They are quiet and certainly aren’t part of any threats or other acts of intimidation. They are solid citizens and support Washington in many positive endeavors. They volunteer. They would make excellent citizens of Washington.
Certainly not all opponents, but some, simply object to paying city taxes. Some do not say that. A few have. We think in the long run, they will get their money’s worth with good and dependable services.
We have even heard people in the areas proposed for annexation say they realize eventually they will have to be in the city for services such as sewage disposal, adequate water, quicker fire and police protection and street maintenance.
A longtime resident of the city told us that he thinks a good answer to those who condemn the city and its officials is to tell them to look at the commercial and industrial growth that has occurred in Washington. Would those businesses have located here if Washington is such a bad place?
We have heard people in the areas proposed for annexation say, “Why should I be in the city? I have all the services the city has to offer.” The answer here is that they need to look to the future as to adequate services, and consider the fact that the value of their property will increase if they are in the city. The majority of buyers want city services and the guarantee that goes with it.
There is a quiet majority in both the city and in the areas proposed for annexation who will make the difference in the elections. Voter turnout is very important as to the outcomes.