EDITORIAL: The importance of municipal elections

There’s no presidential election, there are no statewide offices on the ballot this year.

When Nov. 2 comes around, your vote is going to be about local matters.

And that may matter more than all the high-profile election buzz that dominates when big name candidates are spending oodles of dollars delivering their messages.

Sure, national and statewide elections deserve our attention, but too often local elections get left off the to-do list.

Yet local elections can make a meaningful, discernable difference in our lives. The people who serve on town councils, school boards, finance board, planning and zoning commissions and other elected offices have a significant impact on what our towns look like, how much it costs to live, what kind of education our kids are getting, how safe we feel, our access to recreation and enrichment, and much more.

The Record-Journal and other local media offer extensive coverage of campaigns and issues. Getting to know the people who want to lead or manage your town’s business is worth your time. Many of us spend endless hours debating national figures and yet don’t know the names of our town leaders or who’s on the ballot.

There are still a few weeks left to learn about the individuals who are running and what they bring to the table. Some towns have referendum questions on the ballot, too.

The vast majority of people will never meet a president or senator, much less have a conversation with them. Even with a state senator or representative, most of us have limited or no contact at all.

But if you have a problem in your neighborhood, a question, concern or idea, you can pick up the phone and reach a school board member or the mayor or the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. You can go to a meeting and offer your opinion.

Local elected officials generally know our concerns. They drive the same roads, pay municipal taxes, and have access to the same amenities as the rest of us. When we talk to them about a traffic hazard or ask about repairs to the soccer field, we can talk shorthand. 

This is an important election and voters may want to consider whether they want experienced candidates or perhaps an individual who will bring in new thinking. Besides the usual, ongoing concerns of governance, there are contemporary issues, too. Towns are looking at how to handle recent marijuana laws, for instance. Towns and school systems are reviewing policies on diversity and inclusion, bullying, accessibility and transparency. Who will you vote for to best guide these matters?

Now is the time to study the candidates, seek answers and make your decision before going to the polls. (Absentee ballots are an option, too.)

Whatever your political leanings, the right, responsibility and privilege of voting to help shape your town’s destiny matters — a lot.


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