Next Tuesday, voters will go to the polls to cast ballots in the Taxing Districts Election, a new concept for the state when it rewrote the elections laws last year and consolidated all the "little" elections into one big one.
Have pity on the poor county officials who are now responsible for handling all elections in the county. This is their first run at trying to sort out voters into the right elections at the polls, with each taxing district having different boundaries, and you can only imagine what kind of a nightmare that will be. So if any confusion develops, have some understanding.
These elections are more important than you might think. All of them will involve how your tax dollars are spent.
Many of the elections were canceled because only one person ran for the position. In future years, perhaps this consolidation will help draw more candidates into public service.
The most important vote Tuesday will be for the Mountain Home School District plant facilities levy. This levy, which has been reduced slightly this year, helps keep the district's aging buildings in shape. The district has done a good job keeping up the maintenance of these buildings, helping stave off requests for much more expensive new construction. This levy is desperately needed. Already facing a state budget cut of $1 million, the district would be hard pressed to find another million from its operations budget to fund needed upkeep and repairs. We strongly urge a vote in favor of continuing this levy.
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In related news, two positions are up for election to the school board. To replace retiring Tom Rodney, Rick Checketts is facing off against Gary Oyler for the Zone 3 position and incumbent Toni Reynolds is being challenged by Art Nelson for the Zone 1 post. Neither Nelson nor Oyler thought it was important to explain their positions in a questionnaire we mailed to each of the candidates, so neither we, nor the voters, have any idea where they stand on the issues. We suggest that any candidate who declines to answer questions from the public, who isn't interested in letting them know where they stand, should probably not hold a public trust.
We are not, however, endorsing any specific candidate for any position up for election. But we do urge voters to go to the polls. Over the years, sometimes only a handful of people have voted in some of these elections. That puts a lot of power in the hands of just a few voters, who may or may not be representative of the whole.
If you can't get to the polls next Tuesday, try and find time this week to pick up an absentee ballot at the courthouse. Democracy works only when the voters participate.
Let's make it work.