Editorial: Every vote counts on Election Day

By on March 28, 2013

Presidential Election years consistently have a much stronger voter turnout than off-year elections.

Yet, the decisions made by local elected officials have far more of an impact on the day-to-day lives of residents.

From some perspectives, it is easy to understand why the situation is what it is. Turn the TV to any national news channel, and within a few minutes some talking head will discuss an issue and its impact on national elections and politics. Find an online general news source, and chances are the same will occur—a significant focus on national issues and politics.

It is true that the president is the leader of the free world, and therefore the issues at that level, and the elections that feed into that position, should get significant coverage. However, it is difficult to go one day of news-consumption without a reference to a presidential election years in the future, while we remain in the first year of the current presidential term.

Meanwhile, local government seats often go unopposed. In some cases—like some races in this year’s election—there are not enough candidates to fill the open seats.

If the past is any indication, voter turnout will be relatively small on Election Day, meaning a tiny fraction of the general, voting-eligible population will dictate who serves in what local capacity.

These are the people who determine what your hometowns will look like in the near- and long-term future. They pass land use plans, they approve annexation agreements, they approve whether or not impact fees will be assessed on new homes and earmarked for local schools. They create a direction for those local schools, that township, village board or library. They are responsible for determining how effective local government spends your tax dollars. In our part of Illinois, that means they spend the property taxes that almost everyone complains about being too high.

We urge every voting-eligible resident to get informed and vote on Tuesday, April 9.

But your responsibility as a local citizen doesn’t end there, in our view.

We urge you to stay informed, attend your local meetings, get to know the people who often have to the make the tough calls absent a large amount of feedback from a large-enough percentage of the voters he or she may represent.

Then, when the next local election rolls around, if you feel that those currently sitting in their seats failed to do the job at or above your expectations, then we urge you to step forward and put your name up for election.

In our opinion, every local race should be contested, and there should never be more openings than people willing to sit in those seats. This is not because we feel the people currently serving need to be replaced. Rather, it is because we desire such a level of public engagement and desire to serve our local communities that the voting public is consistently presented with a choice between two or more people, instead of many races being unopposed or even unfilled.

The races that are contested this year include areas that are in a pivotal time in their development. Elburn just passed a significant development that will vastly change the scope and size of the community. Sugar Grove is seeking a path forward to complete developments that stalled due to the economy, as well as seeking an interchange between Interstate 88 and Route 47. Maple Park and Kaneville are facing decisions about how to provide services with limited budgets while retaining their small-town amenities. The Kaneland School Board will continue to face budget issues while attempting to improve its educational outcomes.

Every community, every unit of government is facing vital decisions in an uncertain time, from a broader economic perspective.

We hope that the people who will fill the contested seats are there because a majority of a large turnout of voters informed themselves and made an educated decision.

Be one of those educated voters on Tuesday, April 9.