Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019


Outtakes—A Pivotal Day

By Rick Outzen

Sept. 5, 2006, was a pivotal day for Pensacola. A city-wide referendum for the Community Maritime Park was on the ballot. Here is an abbreviated version of the column I wrote to get out the vote:

The Sept. 5 primary has special importance to the Pensacola Young Professionals and other under-40-year-olds in this community. For months, I have written about the importance of this age group to the vitality of the greater Pensacola area. Now it’s time for them to stand up and be counted.

In the Independent News, we’ve identified the up-and-coming young leaders. We helped facilitate the founding of the Pensacola Young Professionals. We also wrote about the young adults that we’ve lost to more prosperous communities and those who have stayed here after graduation from the University of West Florida.

If the next generation wants to be heard by politicians and community leaders, more than 8% of the eligible voters in the age group must vote this time. The message to the PYP and their peers is clear—it’s your vote that gets you a seat at the table when decisions about the future of this community are being made. No vote means no seat, no respect.

Save Our City, the political action committee out to stop the Vince Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park, has no fear of the young people. They aren’t worried about these upstarts, who can’t remember to vote. None of the SOC leadership is under 40. The Pensacola Young Professionals are completely irrelevant to them.

Meanwhile, I have listened to our readers complain about how backward this area is, how little opportunity there is here and how they aren’t able to find affordable housing and decent wages. Many have confided they plan to move elsewhere if the Community Maritime Park fails.

It’s fine to complain, but bitching about the problems won’t change them. It’s the polls that matter. Everyone in this age group needs to vote. Then they need to be sure that all their friends also vote. They need to call them. No, better yet, hound their friends until they cast their vote.

Too often, we con ourselves into thinking our individual vote is meaningless. It’s true that a single vote might not sway an individual race, but this time, it’s the accumulation of votes by younger voters that will ring loud and clear with those in power.

If we can increase the turnout among the under-40-year-olds to more than 8%, then people will start listening to their voices, and they can have a tremendous influence on the future of this community, possibly even electing one of their own in 2008. Vote!

The referendum passed, 9,684-7,701, and Pensacola was set on a new path.