Questioning Airport Referendum Question

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Voters beware! That is the warning issued from local citizen's groups denouncing the ballot language for the Panama City-Bay County International airport relocation referendum.

The three groups are questioning a question to move the airport voter's will answer at a non-binding referendum. "We just wanted a yes or no, up or down vote," says Art Stewart of the Panhandle Citizens Coalition. "We never even thought somebody would dance around the language and make it confusing."

This debate over what's in a question is based on the wording Bay County Commissioner Cornel Brock proposed and eventually passed by the commission. "The answer that you get very well depends upon how a question is asked," worries Frank Gorham of Friends of PFN.

The March 9, 2004 ballot question will read: "Do you favor future relocation of the Panama City-Bay County airport at no cost to local taxpayers?"

Citizens for the Bay spokesperson Diane Brown objects to that question. "We all know very well that the taxpayers will have to pay a considerable amount for this project."

Gorham suggests a simple yes or no question. "Should the Bay County airport be moved to West Bay?"

When Brown was asked if the ballot question would turn out to be okay if the majority of voter's vote "no", she replied, "No. The question would not be okay. It's just a matter of voters being smart enough to see through this question."

Whether the question is confusing or clear, voters will have an answer March 9th for both airport relocation opponents and supporters.