OPINION COLUMNS

Election hangover no excuse to skip May voting

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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After the exhausting presidential race last year, it might be tempting for many of us to have a bit of election hangover.

But it’s time to sober up, quick.

Early voting will soon begin in local city and school elections.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

These races don’t feature expensive television advertising campaigns designed to appeal to our political preferences/biases.

In most cases, we won’t see head-to-head debates in front of a packed venue.

We probably won’t see school board or city council candidate names trending on Facebook or Twitter.

And for that, we should probably all be thankful.

But just because these local races might not include famous names or eye-raising sound bites from candidates, that doesn’t mean we should ignore them.

In fact, we should do just the opposite.

While we spend a lot of time listening to what our more famous elected officials are saying and watching what they are doing, it is often hard to make our voices heard, especially if you don’t share the same political views.

Local elected officials are our neighbors, fellow church members and business owners right here in our community. Not only are they much more accessible than our state and national elected officials, they are part of our community and often share our concerns.

These are the people who keep our drinking water clean, provide safe schools for our children and make decisions about which roads should be repaired, among other priorities that affect our daily lives.

These races are not about partisan politics but rather making our communities a little better place to live.

In almost all cases, these are volunteer rather than paid positions. The people who run for these boards/councils aren’t seeking fame and fortune. (If they do, local citizens will certainly vote someone else in the first chance they get.)

And yet, despite the obvious importance of these local elected positions, voter turnout for the May elections pales in comparison to our state and local elections.

This year in particular, local voters can make important decisions about our communities.

Three school districts are holding bond elections, including a $1.8 million bond in Chico, a $13.6 million bond in Alvord and a $399 million bond in the Northwest school district. Money from these bonds will address current and future student growth and needs.

The school board members elected in a couple of weeks will help select the next superintendent at three local schools this spring or summer. That’s often one of the most important decisions board members will make during their tenure, but they can’t make that decision until voters first make their’s.

We’ve tried to help you out as best we can. Today’s issue of the Messenger includes profiles of candidates in local races, and we plan to publish more responses in Saturday’s paper, just in time for early voting to begin next week.

We’ll also have more coverage of what voters will decide on when they go to the voting booths over the next couple of weeks.

So grab a cup of coffee, read up, sober up and, most importantly, go vote.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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