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Prop. 409 takes center stage at voter registration event

July 13, 2018

For a community to grow, it needs informed voters, according to Lake Havasu City officials. On Thursday, one nonprofit organization did its part to make that happen.

Volunteers worked a booth Thursday evening at Martini Bay for the Only Orchids nonprofit organization’s second Voter Registration Party, and helped Havasu residents to register electronically for this year’s primary and general elections. An offer of free sliders for any registered voter who attended was just an added incentive.

Last year’s Voter Registration Party was held at Mudshark Brewery, where about 100 new voters registered in last year’s elections. This year, the gathering emphasized the importance of Proposition 409, which will increase the base amount of money Havasu can budget toward city services under Arizona mandate.

Current expenditure limitations were imposed under a formula based on Havasu’s population as of the 1979 U.S. Census – which was about 13,000. Almost 40 years later, the population of Lake Havasu City is more than four times larger. The city now boasts about 54,000 residents.

As of July 2017, the city may only spend $4.5 million on city services per year, despite the city’s budget or income. If Proposition 409 passes, the city will be able to spend $9.5 million per year on city services. A “yes” vote would not result in a tax increase, city officials say, but would allow the city to spend more of the budget it already has on services. A “no” vote would not result in a tax decrease, but the city would be forced to make budgetary cuts to services including the Lake Havasu City Police and Fire Departments, parks and recreation, operations, maintenance and other administrative services.

According to Only Orchids President Dustin Runyon, informing voters about such measures is essential not only to the democratic process, but to Havasu’s future growth.

“We want to make sure people are registered to vote,” Runyon said. “We’re trying to get all citizens involved and make voting cool, especially for younger voters. We want to get them involved in whatever topics are influencing their community.”

According to Runyon, Proposition 409 is a must. “Havasu has been creating momentum as a community, and if we want to continue that momentum, it has to be a ‘yes’ vote so we can continue to move forward and make our great city even better.”

Alexis Steel, of Havasu, was not registered to vote when she arrived at Thursday’s event, but that changed by the time the event had ended.

“It’s really good of communities like this, to go out of their way to make people more aware of what’s going on in their community,” Steel said. “Events like this are important for people to gather, meet and get involved to make a positive change.”

Mayor Mark Nexsen attended the event alongside Councilman Cal Sheehy and state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, along with other city officials.

“Everyone who is eligible to vote should vote,” Nexsen said. “It’s their voice, whether it’s for Proposition 409 or for who will lead this city for the next four years. I honestly believe it’s an obligation for people to vote.”

According to Nexsen, events such as Only Orchids Voter Registration Party are a good way of getting the public involved, and there have been few more crucial times for voters to be heard than now.

“Proposition 409 is critical to the future of this community,” Nexsen said. “If it doesn’t pass, there are going to be severe cuts to city services on the horizon. Trying to work with a budget established when Jimmy Carter was president doesn’t work today.“

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