Over 23,300 Northampton County residents signed a petition recently in opposition to selling the county nursing home, Gracedale. This petition would have allowed a referendum question to be placed on the ballot this May allowing county voters to decide the fate of Gracedale. Now, county officials have put up roadblocks, barriers and hurdles to silence their voices by not allowing the ballot question to appear. This is wrong.
The collection of over 23,300 signatures was a monumental success not just for those advocates of Gracedale, but for democracy as a whole. Those of us in government, along with county government officials, should want, welcome and embrace the thousands of voices who spoke by lending their name to the petition. Now more than ever it has become increasingly difficult to keep a cynical public engaged in their government. We constantly desire greater activism and want more people to become connected to their government. But roadblock decisions like this are precisely the cause for continued disconnect and disillusionment.
Not allowing a referendum vote will disenfranchise these individuals, leaving them in the dark without a democratic voice. When have we ever seen 23,300 people in Northampton County come together via petition, lending their voice to a cause they care and believe so deeply in?
My husband and I both signed the petition because we believe the resounding voice of the electorate should be heard. The voice of the people should not be ignored. For that reason, I have routinely introduced legislation to allow for the greater use of voter referendum and initiatives for statewide issues. It is also the reason why I believe that Northampton County government should let the voters decide the fate of Gracedale on Election Day.
Lisa M. Boscola
State Senator, 18th District
Editor's Note: Sen. Lisa M. Boscola is a Democrat from Bethlehem who represents parts of Northampton, Monroe and Lehigh counties.