We are just a few days away from yet another local election, meaning it’s time to beat the drum — or recently-deceased horse, if you prefer that adage — about the need to vote.
Yes, voting in any and all elections is important. We know the price that previous generations have paid to obtain and secure our right to cast a ballot. In far too many parts of the world, the simple act of voting is one denied to millions. When finally granted the ability to do so, many willingly risk their lives on the way to the ballot box.
By comparison, all we Americans have to do to exercise our constitutional rights is carve out a little time on a Tuesday or submit an absentee ballot before Election Day — not exactly frightening inconveniences.
Yet, as important as it is to vote in all elections, the significance is even more pronounced during municipal elections, which many political pundits routinely and unfortunately refer to as “off year” events. With no governor, senator or president on the ballot, the entire endeavor is often treated as unimportant or certainly not as impactful as deciding who will head to Hartford or Washington, D.C. for another term.
Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
National and state politics are almost always more flashy. The politicians, well known to the masses, stir controversy. The whole thing plays out like reality television. On the local level, average citizens seek to volunteer their time and experience to help the community move forward. Only on rare occasions are their controversies the likes of which we routinely see on the “bigger” stages. Most often, the candidates knock on doors, answer questions about the mill rate, and propose new, often simple ways to make the town a safer, better, more prosperous place.
Such no-nonsense politics doesn’t generate the same kind of headlines or social media battles, but it does keep the community moving. And the representatives chosen on Tuesday will determine whether the town moves forward, backward, or just stays in place.
The candidates running for office today will be the people who decide whether taxes go up tomorrow. They will decide on your children’s school curriculum, what development does or does not take place in Cheshire, and what programs will or won’t be offered in the future. Those decisions will affect voters’ day-to-day lives in a way very little coming out of Washington, D.C. ever will. That controversial Tweet or Facebook post from Republican X or Democrat Y will likely have little impact on how you live your life, but what the Town Council decides next month almost assuredly will.
Some veterans of local politics are predicting a record-low turnout on Tuesday. With what promises to be another controversial Presidential election coming in 2020, many believe voters will be tuned out in 2019. Here’s to hoping that isn’t the case.
If you’re content with the way things are going, voice your support by getting out and voting for the incumbents. If you believe major changes are in order, vote for those promising a new course. But vote. Vote for the people who will lead your municipality — the people whose decisions will determine what kind of community it is in which you live.