Archive for Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Know who you’re voting for

March 20, 2013

In 12 days, residents of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor will have the opportunity to help shape the future of their communities and school districts. The decisions are extremely important, but unfortunately few voters seem to take them seriously because turnout is usually very light.

I am proud to say that in my lengthy life, I have never failed to vote. First, I think that it is your civic duty and responsibility. We need to make our voices heard at the polls and, by the way, I have no intention of ever missing an election.

I might add one caveat – residents need to be knowledgeable voters. They need to know the candidates and what they stand for. Voters have a responsibility to take some time and learn the vision they have for the community or school district. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about candidates. There are public forums and the newspaper publishes profiles and interviews with the candidates. Sadly, public forums are not that well attended.

It is unfortunate that such public apathy exists. The city, county and school districts touch almost every facet of our lives. Schools are charged with the vital task of educating young people and preparing them for a rapidly changing world. It is most important that young people be challenged to think, learn and be academically flexible. They will be moving into a world that changes rapidly and to be successful they need to be able to adjust.

In short, they need to be life-long learners. They also need a wide range of social skills and opportunities. I believe that extra-curricular activities are very important. School boards are charged with providing the best learning opportunities for young people. It is vitally important that communities have strong school board leadership.

The same is true with city government. Cities deal with a wide range of issues that touch our everyday lives. Cities are in charge of fire, police and ambulance services. They handle vital services including road maintenance and water and sewer facilities. They have many quality of life issues such as parks and recreation programs, aquatic centers and libraries. Cities are in charge of planning, zoning and code enforcement, too. I heard city government once described as “where the rubber meets the road.”

I have talked to several persons who have told me they only vote for president and in national elections. Certainly, those are extremely important and we know that national decisions are important. However, we can’t forget that local government is equally important.

One important facet about local government is that city and school officials are accessible. You can always talk personally to a school board member, city council member, county commissioner or mayor. You can attend local meetings and make your voice heard. Unfortunately, you have a hard time having personal contact with federal or state officials. City and school leaders live in your town, shop and attend local events. There are plenty of opportunities to contact them.

Most people who serve in local elective positions do so for love of community, certainly not for personal agendas.

In short, I strongly urge you to take a few minutes and learn about those who are seeking local office. Don’t forget Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kan.), Bonner Springs and Edwardsville are independent cities which have their own city councils and mayors. We also vote on the mayor-CEO of Wyandotte County who is actually the chairperson of the county commission and has no control over Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. The UG, as far as we are concerned only deals with county government issues. Our representation on county issues comes from the 7th district commissioner which we vote on.

Please mark Tuesday, April 2 on your calendar and exercise your right to set the future course of the city and school board.

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