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On Tuesday, a majority of voters who cast ballots passed the Sedona Community Plan. City of Sedona logo

The caveat “who cast ballots” is a necessary one because despite three years of community involvement, big displays, forums and work groups, only 38.26 percent of Sedona’s 6,495 registered voters returned ballots, which is lower than the numbers from last community plan vote in 2003.

Thus, taken as a whole, 23.6 percent voted in favor of the new community plan, 14.7 percent voted against and 65.7 percent did not take a stance.

Voter numbers in Sedona are typically higher than other communities in the Verde Valley. A 40 percent turnout is statistically high, especially for a topic as dry as a community plan rather than something more exciting like a contentious ballot proposition or a vote for president, yet, one would have expected a higher response given the fact the election was handled by mail, rather than a specific in-person vote on a Tuesday.

Looking back at the 10 years I’ve lived in Sedona, on the whole, residents seem less engaged in city governance, a feeling one of my longtime coworkers also lamented as we discussed the vote shortly after Yavapai County posted results Tuesday night.

It’s hard to point to any one cause. Perhaps the aftermath of the Great Recession still sends a ripples of social and economic impermanence across the community that causes residents to avoid involving themselves in causes they may have to walk away from — our totally nonscientific online poll this week would suggest voters believe Sedona’s business climate is worsening.

Maybe the increase of smartphones and social media make connecting nationwide easier while taking our attention away from our local community.

Perhaps it’s the actions of local governments — like Sedona City Council’s decision last year to kill several city commissions — or the ever-present NIMBYs that tell residents that getting involved in improving our community isn’t really worth the effort.

Collecting hard data on a community zeitgeist is not an easy proposition. It’s harder still to encourage people to change it and get more involved in the community.

Part of our role as a newspaper is to offer a balanced forum for our community to voice their concerns, but also offer a place where residents can encourage involvement in politics and community events.

If an issue concerns you enough to attend a meeting, bring a friend. Encourage teens and young people in their 20s and 30s to vote, voice their concerns and even run for city office.

It’s easy to post an online rant rather than see other people’s points of view. It’s even harder to sacrifice for the greater good of the community, but our city, our state and our republic only functions if we choose to involve ourselves in the process.

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