I lost my first political election on November 8, 2016. I ran as a candidate for 7th Distict St. Louis County Commissioner. It was a hard and close race. Mike Jugovich won by 692 votes. When I was a candidate I made my own website and wrote my first ever blog. I took down that website and am reposting a few of those blogs here.
My first ever blog entitled "I Call Shot Gun" from May 26, 2016 is below:
When I became a community member deciding to run for political office I knew that I would get the question of, “How would you vote on………?” Recently I ran into a youth community member who approached me about my views regarding the ATV ordinance voted on by the St. Louis County board yesterday. Even before I could answer his question he quickly interjected and said “You wouldn’t believe how much trouble it causes in our family without having that ordinance in place. It is a big hassle for sure. It interrupts the fun of ATV riding and makes it a lot of extra work. But that is NOT my main reason for wanting it passed. I want that ordinance passed because of the ‘shot gun’ problem it causes. You have no idea the dread I feel inside each time we are about to get to the end of the trail and up to the county road. As soon as we get there everyone is shouting ‘I call shot gun!’ It is so stressful. My family’s truck seats four people and carries two ATVs on the trailer. There is always stress, mayhem and confusion because it is hard to figure out who said it first or who had the ‘shot gun’ seat last. We tried to solve this family problem by going to the local convenience store and buying bobble heads that looked like each of us. We bought four bobble heads, labeled them with sharpies and put the bobble head figure of my brother, who was supposed to be next, on the dash of the pick-up. If this ordinance passes our ‘shot gun’ arguments (and need to buy replacement bobble heads) will be greatly diminished. Oh, and then sometimes there are people who like to hike in the woods or ride bikes that are nearby and they hear all of this yelling about shot guns and bobble heads and pure panic ensues!”
Ok, maybe that didn’t happen.
However, I often hear my own children say “I call shot gun”. Yesterday (May 25, 2016) in Hibbing there were two key public meetings where this phrase seemed to apply. “How so?” you might ask. Earlier in the day, ATV drivers and riders were present to support the ATV ordinance before the St. Louis County board. ATV riders and drivers sought the change so that they would not have to transport their ATVs between trails.
Last night (May 25, 2016) I attended the other relevant “I Call Shot Gun” meeting. I was present at the Hibbing “Safe Routes to School” meeting at the Lincoln Elementary School. A group of representatives from St. Louis County, Hibbing Public Schools and Assumption Catholic School sought input to improve school walking and biking conditions. This project involves planning and analysis of the conditions that affect walking and biking around schools in Hibbing. The public input and discussion was regarding traffic flow, intersections, and the circulation of pick-up and drop-off areas. This means potentially less kids fighting and yelling, “I call shot gun!” because they are not travelling to school in the morning in a car because they are riding their bikes and walking to school.
The St. Louis County board passed an ordinance allowing for the use of ATVs on all county roads outside of city limits. It is now also legal for ATVs to operate on the right or extreme right-hand side of county roads as long as the driver follows all state statutes related to speed and safety. Our county has vast lands, trails, a growing network of ATV trails, and 3,000 miles of roads in St. Louis County. We have a beautiful county. ATV riders should not have to get off of their ATV and load it up each time they come to a county roadway.
County staff and commissioners have worked tirelessly since last fall gathering input from hundreds of citizens throughout the county regarding the ATV ordinance.
The ATV ordinance and discussions regarding creating “safety” for children on their way to school highlight the bigger question of, “What is the role of government in balancing the rights of individuals and public safety?”
These two local and public meetings yesterday in the 7th District of St. Louis County bring to focus underlying and similar questions and beliefs. I have worked most of my career for a non-profit addressing issues related to public safety and human services. Anytime an ordinance, law, or intervention is proposed by government and seeks to enhance the safety of all we should consider asking ourselves:
We don’t actually achieve “safety” if justice, liberties or freedoms we value are inherently compromised when we pass oppressive policies and then we justify them in the name of “public safety”. This is an overall belief I have and is not in anyway even close to stating that I think the two local meetings, ordinances, or policy discussions regarding ATVs and School Safety Routes did this. There is no connection. So, don’t make one.
The true and unfortunate test and challenge will be “if and when” a community member’s life is tragically ended by an accident that occurs on a county road while on an ATV or someone (particularly a child) becomes seriously injured riding his or her bike to school. I hope neither occur. Statistically, families in our community will experience one or both of these tragedies at some point. The policy question that will be brought up and the one that politicians will discuss then is “How could we have prevented this from happening?” My career has shown me that lawmakers and politicians often attach to tragic personal stories as a mechanism to create change. The experience of knowing about or living a personal tragedy has often been the catalyst to creating many policies. The reality is that government cannot take away “all risks” posed in our lives. There are risks with ATVs. There are risks associated with children riding their bikes or walking to school. Experiencing a tragedy however can force us to rethink some basic premises about what our County considers “acceptable harm” and “acceptable risks” to take when creating policy.
In conclusion, the answer is “YES.” That is the short answer some of you are looking for. The above paragraphs are the long answer. For those of you who only wanted the short answer, you learned to skip to the last paragraph to find the key words “in conclusion” and likely read nothing above. No problem. I get it. I seek to provide short and long answers. You know the meaning of the short answer “YES” if you read the question in the first paragraph. If you didn’t read the question, my grandmother is the one who taught me to look for “key words.” You should look for the key word “vote” in a paragraph early on.
My grandmother is Mrs. Viola Petrangelo. She is well-known for her hairstyle, keeping clogs in fashion for years, and being a first grade teacher to many in Chisholm for years. For those of you who are thinking right now, “I can’t believe she is poking fun at her grandma!” you were just looking for a reason to criticize me. I love my grandma. She has a unique and beautiful hairstyle and fashion sense. Her hair and shoe choice created a lot of memories and connections for me. I loved going with her now and then when she went to her weekly wash and style appointment with Matt Barrato to get her hair done. When I see people from Chisholm I have not seen in years they often ask about her and inevitably someone will ask, “Does she still have the same hairdo?” The answer to that question is also “YES.”
My Grandma Viola Petrangelo also created a family tradition of “clog shopping.” Each of her grand daughters got to go on a special trip to downtown Virginia to shop for their first pair of clogs with Grandma Vi. I remember being so excited for it. I remember how special the trip to Virginia was. And I remember loving my first pair of shoes with no backs on them. I actually felt more independent with no back on my shoes. It was my first “freeing” experience the day my heels felt that fresh air. My family apparently decided that no young girl of theirs would have their first “freeing of the heels experience” before the second grade.
I am now for the first time finding myself pondering what seems to be another important question related to my family history, “What type of ‘freeing of the heels experience” did my brother Bill and cousin Brian Petrangelo experience as boys in our family? Did it even involve their heels?” Hmmm…….
Come back for the next blog post to see if I have “healed” from the answer to this critical and historical Petrangelo family mystery.