Election season is upon us with hours of political ads on broadcast stations, post cards arriving by mail, roadside signs and pages in the newspapers demanding our attention. And albeit distracting, all of these messages are a sign that civic involvement is alive and well.
This democratic republic is dependent upon civic discourse with it’s incumbent debates and arguments, and also dependent upon civic involvement. That civic involvement is most obvious in the willingness of citizens to invest their time and egos to run for public office. Fortunately, we are seeing in the local elections just such an investment.
While the nation writ large is focused on the national issues of the presidential race, the really important issues and races are those closest to home.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the big noisy races at the national level and overlook the ones that impact our lives on a daily basis - the local races. The selections we make in the local primaries this week will determine the issues to be debated and decided in the November election such as the how tax revenues are used and prioritized, and how our schools will serve a growing student population.
This week’s primary races, to be decided Tuesday, are an indication that there is still energy and recognition in serving the public in elected office and there is still a willingness to compete within the party. For too long there has been a sense that the Democrat and Republican parties have been monolithic and that candidates have been hand-picked to toe a distinct party line without variance. That is not the case this go-around.
The Republicans have competitive races in the board of education race. Katie Statler is vying with Jerry Butler to represent District 2. Andrea Phillips Beasley, daughter of the publishers of the News-Times, is running against Travis Day, former chairman of the current board of bducation for District 4. On the Democrat ticket Jennifer Johnson is competing with Jake Godwin, incumbent, to represent the county’s BOE District 2 in the November general election.
In the county commissioner’s race, Chimer Clark is running against incumbent Bob Cavanaugh for District 3 for the privilege of representing the Republican ticket in the November election.
Granted these are only four competitive primaries out of 11 local races in various districts, but they are an indication that there is energy in the system and a growing interest among young residents willing to seek public office.
If voters want choices, they have to prove to these and future candidates that their personal investments of time and energy are appreciated. We owe it to the candidates, and particularly those who have opted to run competitive races, a vote of confidence and appreciation by simply voting this Tuesday.