All offices nonpartisan
My primary absentee ballot was restricted to judicial, school board and municipal offices. Those important public offices directly affect citizens. Nonetheless, I would also have preferred to vote for my choice for all offices, including congressional representative, governor and legislative offices.
All offices are public, so why can some be partisan? How can that be if the public pays for them and they serve all of us? I was denied the right to participate in electing candidates for partisan offices. In other words, I am denied the right to vote for a public office primarily because I am not registered as a Republican or a Democrat.
If all tax-supported public offices were nonpartisan, all voters, regardless of registration, could vote, just as we all can vote for the offices of judge, school board and city council. Isn't that more fair? Of course, it is.
Let us all demand that all offices at city, county and state levels be nonpartisan. This in no way restricts private political parties from doing what they do now. They can still raise money, campaign for candidates, endorse candidates and speak on behalf of candidates.
However, the taxpaying public would not continue to fund private primary events that deny voting rights to those not registered in their parties.
A closer look at voter turnout in Ferguson
I found Associate Professor Vibert White's column, "Ferguson, Mo.'s truth: We have a human-rights problem," in Thursday's Sentinel, extremely disturbing in that he seems to blame the problems in Ferguson on a human-rights problem in America.
He and other pundits seem to suggest that because Ferguson is 67 percent black and the government is overwhelmingly white, this means that the white race is oppressing those of African-American decent. But this is far from the truth.
The people of Ferguson have every right that any citizen of this country has. And the most important one is the right to vote. You cannot complain about the local government you have if only 12 percent of the registered voters even show up to choose what government they want.
Twelve percent is a pathetic number. The unemployment rate is higher in Ferguson at 13 percent. And do not tell me how hard it is to get off work because 12 percent turnout means there are short lines at the polls, and voting takes just a few minutes.
Nobody is stopping the black population from going to the polls and electing a mayor who will hire a police chief who will reform the department to reflect the community.
If citizens are going to let a minority of voters choose the government for them, then they have no right to complain.
Lou Gehrig's hits home for Seminole woman
I have read Beth Kassab's Thursday column, "Why I haven't poured ice water over my head," and responses on the subject of the ice-bucket challenge. I support any effort to raise the awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). You see, my sister has just been diagnosed with ALS.
The vibrant, funny, generous, tennis-playing sister I saw at last year's holiday season is now wheelchair-bound with a life expectancy of three to five years. Her life, family and friends have been forever changed by this progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord.
Ice-bucket challenges have raised almost $80 million, a figure that keeps rising. This amount compares to $2.5 million raised during this same period last year. The money raised goes toward research and assistance to ALS victims and their families. There is no cure for this disease, and there is only one Food and Drug Administration-approved drug that may slow its progression.
I don't necessarily endorse dousing oneself or others with ice water, but the emphasis is on supporting a worthy cause that, until recently, has received little attention. Dousing is optional.
Paulette Fiske Winter Springs
Take redistricting out of Legislature's hands
I was pleased when Circuit Judge Terry Lewis in Leon County held certain parts of the congressional map for the 2014 election unconstitutional.
Unfortunately, the pressures on the judge, some understandable and valid, caused his ultimate decision in the matter to be rather diluted, namely approving minor adjustments providing little comprehensive improvement to the state of Florida as a whole.
The twin challenges to our democratic system are unlimited inside money and politically skewed voting districts. The voting districts can be corrected, as was tried with the Fair Districts constitutional amendment several years ago. That effort was in the right direction but lacked detail to accomplish the correction.
The people of Florida, regardless of party affiliation, should demand a new constitutional amendment or strong legislation that would take the process of redistricting out of the self-interested Legislature.
The mechanics of the process must be placed exclusively with a neutral body required to utilize the available computer software to draw districts with equal population, regardless of politics, and in as close to rectangular shape as possible.
The rectangular districts would be required to be anchored from the northern boundary of the state and would vary in size according to actual population data from the U.S. Census.
If we truly wish to follow the U.S. Constitution, this is the modern way to achieve that goal.
Richard Davidson Altamonte Springs
Execution or murder?
We speak of the death of James Foley at the hands of terrorists as an execution.
Even the wordsmiths in the media have historically chosen that term in such cases. I would suggest that execution has a connotation of legality/legitimacy that is quite inappropriate to depict the reality of the situation. It also implies some perverse legitimacy for those committing the heinous acts.
All of us should be using the word murder or its equivalent, rather than execution.