Opinion column: Pay attention, local elections matter


It’s rare these days to watch a movie or TV show that hasn’t been ruined by spoilers. It seems like it takes more work to not know about something than it does to know.

Take “Get Out,” a horror movie by Jordan Peele released in 2017. I didn’t watch it until a few weeks ago, and although some plot basics have been unavoidable if you follow popular culture – black/white/interracial couple/bad things happen – I was pleasantly surprised by how in the dark I was about some of the main surprises.

I don’t like horror movies, but I liked this. And it was better because it wasn’t completely spoiled.

There’s also the Amazon legal drama “Goliath.” Its popped up in my list of shows for years, but I wasn’t interested. I knew nothing about it.

For some reason I finally clicked on it and started watching – Billy Bob Thornton is great, and I found out it’s written by David Kelly, whose got a long career writing good TV. I watched it, completely unspoiled and totally entertained.

Voting isn’t like TV. Voting should be nothing but spoilers – you should know exactly what (and who) you’re voting for when you cast your ballot.

But you probably won’t. Most people know less about the local things they vote for than state and national candidates and issues.

Why is that? Everyone knows and has an opinion about the big stuff. But it’s local elected officials that pass resolutions about your fences and ban books. It’s local bond issues that raise your taxes for decades.

It’s also local elected officials who keep your roads and schools well-maintained, who set aside money for parks and who manage the emergency services folks who are there when you need them.

It may not be as interesting as all the talking heads on TV with the latest in our national soap opera, but the local stuff matters.

There’s an election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. It’s a relatively small one.

My home ballot has just three races on it: Township fiscal officer, township trustee and school board. The first two races are unopposed, but the school board race has four candidates running for two seats. I only know one of the candidates, so I’ve got some homework to do in the next few weeks.

What’s on your ballot? There are a couple of ways to find out. One way is to contact your county board of elections and request a sample ballot. Many Ohio counties have sample ballots online. Do a search for your county name plus “board of elections” and you should find it.

Another way is to go to https://www.vote411.org/. It’s a website run by the League of Women Voters, a long-time, trusted gatherer of unbiased information about voting. Put in your address and it shows you what’s on the ballot, along with information that’s been gathered about candidates and issues.

It’s not active in all areas, but it shows me basic information that I can’t find anywhere else about the candidates running in my school board race. Note: The information is provided directly by the candidate, so keep that in mind when reviewing it.

A lot of candidates and issue committees also have web sites or a Facebook presence. A Google search should turn up those things, too.

And, of course, there’s your local newspaper. Our newspapers have been using this logo to let you know “Hey, there’s an election coming up.”

If you haven’t been paying attention to local issues and elections, this is a good year to start. There’s not much on the ballot, and you’ve still got a few weeks to do some homework before you vote on Nov. 5. Think of it as some training for next year, when the ballot will be stuffed with candidates.

Listen, learn, vote. And please vote in the races that matter most, those closest to home.




Gary Presley

Contributing columnist

Gary Presley is pagination director for AIM Media Midwest, publisher of this newspaper. You can reach him at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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