Commentary: what’s to know about petitions?

Alexis Tittle

Alexis Tittle interviews Randy Shimizu (Photo: Russ Lindquist)

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — When they solicit Grossmont students’ signatures for the three forms on their table, Tony Willison and Randy Shimizu get, according to them, no hourly wage or compensation for signatures for a petition to overturn Prop 8, receive nothing when someone fills-out a Voter Registration, and are paid only one dollar for every signature on a petition whose aim is to create a new political party – The Americans Elect.

Then why do they do it? The two were on campus March 29th, hoping that students will sign one or all of the three sheets. Willison said they receive a lot of support at schools, “some of the schools, they come running up … UC Irvine was the busiest school.”

I was curious about the petition calling for the new political party. But when I asked about the petition, Shimizu told me, “we’re not allowed to talk to press about it,” then he added, “if you have questions call the number,” and handed me a sheet of paper from the petition.

The page gave no information of the party’s aims or candidates and no information on what it meant to sign the petition. With a little persistence, I did learn that The Americans Elect was a new, non-partisan party.

Shimizu said, “it is a new way of electing a president,” and that to sign the paper meant, “the party would be on the ballot each day for office.”

When I asked Willison about The Americans Elect petition, he responded, “I don’t know what they’re doing – they just gave us a piece of paper and said ‘do not talk to the press.'”

When I questioned him further, Willison said, “a man got in trouble because he was talking to press in front of a Target store and now people cannot at Target…”

Willison stated several times during the conversation, “we don’t know what’s going on.”

But he did want to talk about Prop 8,  the ballot initiative by which California voters decided to ban gay marriages.  “A lot of people are against that, and you don’t know who your talking to – your next boss, you don’t know who your talking to.”  I assume he meant that there was a possibility that a person’s next boss could be gay (and therefore – supposedly – in favor of overturning Prop 8).

What would be the effect of revisiting and undoing Prop 8? Shimizu said, “anyone who wants to marry can get married,” saying also that it would be “hard to say” when we would see the results of Prop 8 if it were to be undone.

(The latter statement responded to a question which considered how, at times, there is legislation – Obama’s healthcare for example – that will be passed but whose actual effects will not be felt until long thereafter.)

When asked whether he knew if any gay people favored Prop 8, he stated, “not that I’m aware of,” saying also that overturning Prop 8 would affect “only gay people,” when asked whether anyone but gays who wanted to marry would be affected by a successful overturning of Prop 8.

Asked whether Prop 8 personally affected him, Shimizu responded “no.”

Travis Sardina, a Grossmont student had first seemed hesitant as he approached the booth to sign The Americans Elect petition, but he signed it anyway. I asked Sardina why he hesitated.

He said that, “it’s a new party so I don’t know what they stand for.” I asked why he had changed his mind and signed.  He responded, “I don’t like the bickering that goes with political parties and there needs to be a change.”

He then added that, “it’s good to get a new voice besides a Republican or Democrat because you can basically predict what they will say. Call me a risk taker.”

In the end, if you “don’t know what’s going on” then should you be collecting signatures for political petitions?

And is our next elected official something to be taking risks with? These officials run our government and decide the laws that build our nation’s infrastructure. These officials decide on funding for science, education and war.

So to “risk” electing the wrong people could have major consequences for our future.


Tittle is a student in MCOMM 132; email her at [email protected]