November 3, 2009
Today is Election Day and I have the flu. I’m past the “just kill me now” stage but the room still spins if I stand up for more than five minute so, I won’t make it to the polls today. And, can I share something with you? I’m kind of relieved. This was going to be another year that instead of leaving the voting booth proud to have participated in our secure and peaceful election process, I would be leaving feeling uneasy and with a vague sense of impending doom.
When my sample ballot arrived the other day I opened it to find that there were twelve gubernatorial candidates on the ballot – twelve. All twelve provided a statement regarding the issues important to their campaigns. The statements provided interesting ideas and worthwhile goals. They talked a lot about taxes. The discussed everything from climate change and education to marijuana legalization and gay rights. One noted that NJ should “encourage undocumented residents to lead (a) boycott” against Mexico. ...Hunh? What was missing was one idea, one acknowledgement, or even one word about the desperate need for services and an investment in the infrastructure that supports our residents with developmental disabilities and their families. Our incumbent governor came the closest. He talked about crime, education, health care, children, seniors, minorities, and “the most vulnerable”. Did he mean his fellow citizens with developmental disabilities? Maybe?
Statements put out by candidates running for our legislature voiced the same rhetoric that we have been hearing for years – “I would address this issue by making it a priority for additional funding when available”, “As the economy improves and revenues return, I am committed to looking for possible ways…”, “…any appropriations need to account for other priorities facing the state.” What will it take to make people with developmental disabilities a priority? Families are suffering. They are affected by all the woes that afflict our state at this time with the added stress and unrelenting, often overwhelming, need to provide care for their loved one with a developmental disability. A crisis is looming in our communities. Will only tragedy provide the motivation for the people that hold our children’s lives in their hands to realize what their priorities should have been?