Garbage From A Councilman

The following is a speech made to Longmont City Council by Brigette Rodriguez of Vote! Longmont on Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mayor Lange and members of Council,

Most of you are used to seeing my husband Chris up here. I’m here tonite to talk about our non-partisan organization called Vote Longmont. I have the primary responsibilities of our organization. We started it as we felt that not enough residents are either registered voters nor are they showing up to actually vote. We are certified by the Colorado Secretary of States office to help people register to vote and in addition our website provides Longmont residents with current local initiative links and information. We have been very busy this year for obvious reasons with the national election coming up.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to have a booth at our first large event, Rhythm on the River. In addition to working with the Boulder County Clerk who was at a different location at the event, we were in an area sponsored by the Longmont Museum called the Discovery District. This area is a family oriented area and we offered an activity called “Discover Voting”. We had 172 children cast their ballots for President in a voting booth I had created for our mock election. Many parents as well as the museum director thought this would inspire them to one day become more civically involved. My husband was even dressed up as 2nd President John Adams. Our booth also offered a convenience to parents who themselves wished to register or update their voter registrations while their children were doing activities in that area. One six year old who voted in our booth even cutely asked me “who would you vote for if you were a kid?”

We had many people visit us, including teachers and council members. We received lots of positive feedback and one councilmembers child even voted in our voting booth. But I’m disappointed about the behavior of Councilman McCoy who came into our area. I had stepped away to pick up more flyers from the Longmont City Council booth and found that he had visited our area when my husband and son were staffing the table. When my husband offered him one of the hundreds of bookmarks we had handed out, he replied “I wouldn’t take any of your garbage.”

That “garbage” consisted of flyers about deadlines for voting, how to verify your voter registration, links to contacts for the current school district bond and mill levy override issue, information on local businesses to encourage shopping local, and interesting enough…the flyer for “meet your council members.” I spent weeks preparing for this event. I would have expected better behavior from a councilmember and a school teacher at that, especially because my 12 yr old son was witness to this.

Our project wants to encourage people to be involved in their community and what their city council is discussing. Actions like this make me also not surprised to read in the paper today about the low percentage of city surveys that have been turned in. I am not a member of the lunatic fringe as Councilmember McCoy likes to put it, but a member of your community.

Vote! Longmont


I’ve been a follower of politics since I was a teenager subscribing to Time Magazine. I was usually pretty good at picking winners of elections; I’d just follow trends, do a lot of reading, and follow my gut. Over the years I’ve made a hobby of picking presidential elections, getting better each time with 2004 topping out at correctly picking every state except one, Wisconsin, which was pretty close.

Apparently my interest in this stuff is not the norm based on low voter registration rates and turnouts come election time. Ever since starting up my Wrongmont rantings, an ongoing theme has been to hold elected officials accountable, and one great way is to vote them IN to office, or vote them OUT.

At times it appears interest is on the rise based on more people showing up at City Council meetings, petition drives, and activist groups. But the steady decline in voter activity has continued. I figured talk with calls to action wasn’t enough, so I took the next step and got certified as a Voter Registration Drive by the Colorado Secretary of State. You need this certification to collect voter registration forms, try it without this, it’s all bad.

I also built a website with links and phone numbers to make it as easy as possible for people to find out their registration status and fix it if need be. My wife Brigette has also gotten us a choice location at Longmont’s Rhythm On The River event this summer. We’re looking at other venues to set up a table and get people registered.

Within a day of making the front page with our smiling faces on the Times-Call, we started getting emails and phone calls. My wife helped get info to an 18 year old working a McDonalds drive-thru window who was registering for the first time in his life. I spoke to a 90 year old gentleman who called our home. He had just moved and was unsure of his registration status, so my wife mailed him a form, some instructions, and a self-addressed stamped envelope with the Boulder County Clerks address on the front.

Since then we’ve received emails and calls from people who may think WE are the Boulder County Clerk, not this self-funded little operation. One in particular saw our story but had no internet capabilities, so I just gave her the direct number to the county clerk. It’s been fun so far and we’ve only just begun which we hope will turn in to more voter registrations, and come election time it’ll turn into higher voter interest, and more importantly, TURNOUT.

Farewell To Wrongmont

4/1/08 – As of today, I’m ending Wrongmont.

It’s far from an end though, in many ways it’s a beginning, and quite a beginning on the horizon.

As some of you may have seen, I recently started a Voter Registration Drive effort called Vote Longmont. It came from my years of trying to get people to pay more attention to their local community and government. So it was one offshoot of Wrongmont, and I think an important one. It will take up a fair amount of my time and money, but hopefully it will be worth it in higher registrations and turnout.

I’ve also been invited to join a fairly large media operation to write on subjects having to do with Longmont. It pays, not enough to be a second job, but I’m flattered to be considered. Prior to this offer, I had already been working on a much larger project than Wrongmont in scope and reach. The timing of this is total coincidence, but you know what they say about coincidences.

I’m well aware of the perceived connotations to the name “Wrongmont”, and that is partly the reason for the change, but not totally. After people read my stuff or got to know me, both online and personally, they got to see that I was actually a Longmont supporter and booster. Even friends who would agree with what I was saying, still after all these years, didn’t really care for the name. And those that didn’t know me, it maybe left a bad first impression. I thought it was snappy, a little sarcastic and witty (like myself), and easy to remember and type into a browser.

But I also knew there were limitations with the name, and what people thought it meant. I don’t like limitations, especially self inflicted ones.

Without giving too much away, I’m hoping my new project will interest people in wanting to participate. I will cover a wide variety of issues and topics and welcome outside submissions, as long as its Longmont related as much as possible. One example is I will showcase local talent, and I already have at least one band interested in taking part.

Local politics will still remain a large part of what is covered, but will be done in a much more interesting and entertaining way, at least that’s the goal. The rest, you’ll just have to wait. But whatever it is, and to whomever wants to take part, it will reach a larger audience than any other avenue I’ve used prior – combined. A hint: The Yellow Scene once said of me ” By founding Wrongmont.com, Rodriguez became one of EastCounty‘s early independent publishers.” The plan is to eclipse that. I’m not interested in standing still, no matter how comfortable it may be.

What’s ahead is daunting and challenging, mainly because I’m not willing to do things half-a, well you know. And if it just doesn’t work out, well, I guess you could consider this an April Fools joke.

While the name may change, the promise I made to myself and to my friend, the late Jeff Sands, remains.