Another election season has begun

I T SOMETIMES SEEMS LIKE election season never ends. After all, it was just a month ago that voters went to the polls in a costly, loud and contentious general election for state and federal offices.

Now, things are already underway for the next election – the April 2015 general election.

Candidates for local offices in towns, villages and cities and on school boards began circulating their nomination papers this week, to be turned in the first week in January.

The election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, and the primary – if needed – will be Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Admittedly, this election will not generate the same level of rhetoric and vitriol as the last one, and advertisements for candidates will not dominate newspapers, the airwaves and, increasingly, the internet and social media the way the last one did.

And this election will not generate nearly the same level of voter turnout as the last one.

That is unfortunate.

Because this election impacts all of us tremendously, quite literally right where we live.

The people we elect in April will set our local budgets and property tax rates. They will decide how our children are educated and prepared for the future. They will decide how much police, fire and other protection we receive for our homes and properties. They will decide what streets will get fixed, how snow will be removed in the winter, what kind of recreation and leisure activities are available to the public.

In other words, they will make the decisions that will impact the everyday lives of each and every one of us – and yet they will be elected to their positions by a relative handful of people, in most cases.

That won’t stop many people from complaining about local taxes, policies, government and other issues – even though most don’t bother to exercise their most important role in the process, voting for local officials.

It was former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill who famously said, “All politics is local.” That phrase can have many meanings, but it is also very literally true.

To be fair, many non-voters will contend that, in local elections, they have nothing to vote for as most candidates run unopposed.

That’s true, and that’s to be regretted as well.

There should be more candidates, more participation and more interest in local elections. Perhaps that will change this time around.

And for those who tire of all elections and campaigns, you can at least take comfort in the knowledge that the April general election is the only scheduled election in 2015.

That should give you just enough time to get ready for the 2016 elections.

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