Every election and every vote counts!

Published 1:51 pm Monday, August 1, 2016

Our View

Voting in local, state and federal elections is a precious right that unfortunately too many don’t take advantage of an in off-year such as the election coming up Thursday, Aug. 4.
Few local offices are on the ballot, but, they are important — races for school board and commissioner. There are contested races for school board in the first and sixth districts. In the Eighth District Commission contest, two persons on the ballot — Kelly Collins, who was narrowly elected to the commission earlier this year to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Robert Gobble, will square off against Rick Richardson.
There are other important races on the ballot — contested races in the 4th Tennessee Senatorial District and 4th District House of Representatives. Also, Congressman Phil Roe is seeking to be renominated for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is being challenged by Clint Tribble, who first suspended his campaign then relaunched it this month.
Every election is important, be it a presidential election or a school board election. People usually vote when they think that the outcome is relevant to their lives. Unfortunately, their perception about what is relevant is frequently distorted.
Local elections, the elections where people actually have the most influence over the outcome and often the most at stake, usually have the lowest turnouts, especially when it is an off-year election and there is a minimal number of local contested races. Special elections with short ballots sometimes have the poorest turnouts of all.
That is why we want to remind voters in districts where there are contested elections to vote Thursday.
School board and commissioner races are important. Public schools are the foundation for the kind of educated population that is necessary for self-government. Public schools are the foundation for the workforce training that is necessary to maintain a labor force that has the level of education necessary to meet the needs of the businesses and industries that provide employment here.
Not everyone uses public schools. Some people choose to educate their children at home. Some people don’t have any children. But everyone benefits from good quality schools.
In recent years, Carter County schools have shown steady improvement. Graduation rates and standardized test scores are up. These are good signs, and we would like to see the progress continue. In this election, two school board races are uncontested, and the two races that are contested have a slate of excellent candidates. Your vote can make a difference in who is elected.
The same is true of the contested race for county commissioner in District 8, which includes the City of Elizabethton.
Needless to say, this year’s presidential campaign has captured the lion’s share of election-related coverage. But that spirited political contest won’t be decided until November. However, Thursday, some important races are at stake. And, we, the voters, have an opportunity to decide the outcome because every vote counts!
Getting eligible voters to the polls for an August primary isn’t easy. Summer activities and family vacations are usually bigger concerns.
We urge you to not overlook how much the primary election affects our individual lives. These people decide issues in Nashville and Washington, D.C., that affect our individual lives on a daily basis — funds for schools, roads, state parks, tax issues, Social Security, health care, gun rights, etc.
Tip O’Neil, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, once said, “All politics is local!” Primary elections are at the heart of local politics. Don’t wait until November to exercise your constitutional right to make your voice heard.
Every election and every vote counts!

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