On Tuesday, people in Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry and surrounding communities will head to the polls to cast their votes on what many in this state expect will set the tone and direction not just for Idaho but our nation as well.
I'll be honest. I've been wanting this election to come and go for more than a year. I'm simply worn out trying to follow the constant barrage of news coverage throughout this campaign, which if you'll remember began more than two years ago when the first candidates threw their hats into the political ring.
Whether things will finally calm down once this nation selects its next president is something I wish I could correctly answer. I suppose it all depends on who receives the most electoral votes and whether their opponent will do the honorable thing by shaking hands and moving on.
The last thing this country needs right now is a continuation of the last two years where the political parties have repeatedly "stirred the pot" to call into question the motives and integrity of their opponents. Instead of focusing on the issues that are crucial to the future of this nation, like bolstering our economy, strengthening our military and getting more people back to work, the voters have had a front-row seat to two years of what I'd like to call "political playhouse theater."
It's been the most God-awful version of reality television that I've been forced to watch.
On a local level, the elections will also set a completely different tone for people across the county since we will select two new representatives to the state legislature in addition to choosing a new county sheriff.
Before I go any further, I felt it important to take a minute and recognize Sheriff Rick Layher, who has served this county for the past 40 years -- a commendable achievement and something that deserves mention. Having talked to him many times on a myriad of issues that directly effect this county and its residents, it's clear that he genuinely cares about the people he serves, and I will miss him once he steps aside to enjoy his much-deserved retirement from public service.
Looking to Tuesday, this year's election comes at a time when the state's economy is continuing to signs of sluggish but steady growth, which is just now starting to trickle down into communities like Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry. It's going to take a steady hand on the "helm" within the state and federal legislatures to ensure our communities can take advantage of this optimistic news without anyone getting overconfident.
I base that assessment on what I've personally seen during my time in the newspaper profession. I've had a front-row seat on what it takes for politicians and elected officials to keep things running smoothly.
Despite what some people might think, it's not an easy job, and it's one that I personally wouldn't want, regardless of how well it paid.
Here's another fundamental truth I've learned: Getting elected doesn't mean that voters are going to bow in reverence and throw rose pedals on the ground as you walk by. Instead, politicians and elected representatives have a greater chance of having people boo at them or go onto social media and call them an assortment of very names, none of which I'm allowed to publish in this column.
Someone once told me that being elected to a leadership position simply tells the critics and pundits out there that a new "target" is being set up down range. After seeing firsthand how nasty these critics can get, I believe it.
Being in charge is a lot more than, shaking people's hands or kissing babies. These individuals are required to quickly become subject matter experts on everything from balancing budgets to dealing with personnel issues in their respective agencies.
They need an in-depth knowledge of how everything in government is supposed to work. This includes having a solid grasp on local, state and federal law and how they intertwine (or sometimes conflict) with one another.
Our elected legislators are the ones who will ultimately approve new laws and update existing ones. At the same time, they should anticipate that someone down the line will likely have issues with those laws.
While those elected to federal office don't see it nearly as much, those who serve at the local level closer to their voters deal firsthand with voters who have a bone to pick with them. Getting elected means they accept that responsibility as well -- to face the music by either standing by their decisions or willing to listen to a difference in opinion.
Those new to the world of politics quickly learn to grow an extremely tough "skin" versus taking things personally. But at the same time, they need to remain equally sympathetic to the needs of those they represent.
On a broader scope, these people play the role of diplomat in their dealings with our state and federal lawmakers as well as the senior officials who make the decisions involving the nation's military, in particular Mountain Home Air Force Base. It becomes a delicate balance of sorts to emphasize the base's strategic importance from a military readiness standpoint in addition to its long-time importance as an economic contributor.
For those unsure of what they plan to do regarding next week's election, here's my recommendation: Do your civic duty and get out and vote.
Back when I was much younger, one of my supervisors taught me the importance of voting whenever possible. I took that lesson to heart and made the effort to register in as many elections as I could.
During my 25 years on active duty, I registered for absentee ballots so I could vote in the elections in the hometown where I grew up. If I didn't know the candidates or issues, I did my homework before I voted versus just checking off a box on the ballot.
I figured that if I didn't vote, I hadn't earned the right to complain when an elected official made a decision I didn't agree with.
Once I retired, I went ahead and registered to vote in the elections here. After all, Mountain Home is now my home, and I feel that it's important to continue to perform my civic duty, regardless if it's an election for our new county sheriff or the next president of the United States.
From my perspective, all elections are relevant and important.
It only takes a few minutes out of our busy lives to sit down and vote, so get out there on Tuesday and cast your ballot. If you don't bother to vote, then you really don't deserve the right to complain, do you?
-- Brian S. Orban