Every vote can count in close race
September 21, 2016
No instance shows the importance of voting than that dealing with the lifting of the weight ordinance at Minden-Tahoe Airport in 2010. Approval of that question was decided 10,468 to 10,190, or by 278 votes.
It wouldn't have required much to tip the vote the other way, and there were certainly folks who tried.
On Thursday, Commission Chairman Doug Johnson thanked the residents who voted for the ordinance, which allowed the airport to win a $4.4 million grant to build a fence around it and improve its lighting system, among other things.
Voters first took activity at the airport into their own hands in 1982, when they approved a ballot initiative to keep it small. The ordinance was revised in 1984 and 1992 in an effort to make it enforceable, but it never really worked. There was never any penalty for overweight aircraft that landed at the airport.
It didn't help that during that time the airport was frequented by firefighting tankers and military transports, all well over the weight limit.
The real kicker was that while the weight limit was in effect, the Federal Aviation Administration was looking askance at Minden-Tahoe whenever grants were sought to help maintain the airport.
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All of that culminated in a knock-down, drag-out campaign with a dramatic finish decided by slightly more than 1 percent of voters in an election that saw a substantial turnout.
For the Minden-Tahoe Airport, that vote made it possible for the county to obtain federal grants like the one approved last week.
So don't let anyone tell you that a vote doesn't matter, because sometimes it really does.