Vote with an unclouded conscience

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2006

The best thing about being a free democracy is our right to choose those who will represent our best interests.

In other words, we vote…or at least some of us take part in that right as an adult.

But do we take that right seriously?

Fortunately, some voters study each and every candidate very closely before casting their ballot. Those are what I call true Americans n informed about the issues and prepared to vote for those capable of handling an elected office.

Unfortunately, there are perhaps more who would fall into the other category n those uninformed over the issues. That group are the most dangerous voters as they are legally able to go to the polls and help elect unqualified candidates.

All too often, uninformed voters find themselves at the mercy of someone guiding their judgment. Without knowledge of a candidate’s beliefs, those voters can be easily manipulated. They are basically told who to vote for by simply handing them a slip of paper with checkmarks by the names of certain candidates.

Uninformed voters who are directed to cast their ballots for pre-determined candidates have, pardon my choice of words, been politically raped by the will of another. Our forefathers did not fight and die to protect our freedom to vote in order for someone to come along and impose their will on the uninformed.

Those who choose to prey on the uninformed know they possess the power to change the scope of local and state government. Instead of having just one vote, they have convinced hundreds of others to cast ballots for candidates that have about as much knowledge as I do when it comes to successfully running county or state government.

In particular, I’m very concerned about three local political races.

Judging from the 57 people who turned out last week at a political forum hosted by this newspaper concerning the race for the Hertford County Board of Education, perhaps everyone else already had their minds made-up and didn’t need to listen to the candidates discuss the issues. Or perhaps they were waiting for someone else to make-up their minds for them.

In light of the serious issues facing Hertford County Schools, problems that have been reported on numerous occasions by this newspaper, where were you last week?

I lost track of the number of phone calls I’ve received over the past year or so from disgruntled parents of HCPS schoolchildren. With your vote, you have the power to make a change, but yet you failed to take a precious two hours out of your schedule in order to learn more about those who are promoting change.

If you always do what you always have done, then you will always get what you always have gotten.

When the dust clears from next week’s election, please don’t call me and complain if the outcome isn’t favorable in your eyes.

Another politically charged issue has surfaced in Northampton County. According to two phone calls I recently received n one from each end of the county n a yet unelected candidate for the Board of Commissioners is promising to fire the current County Manager.

Say what?

If my memory serves me correct, current Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins, over his five-year tenure, has done an outstanding job as a financial steward of taxpayer’s money.

During his “watch,” the personal property tax has remained unchanged and the tax base has grown as well as the county’s fund balance.

Meanwhile, the county has obligated funds for a new elementary school and health/wellness center.

Northampton is experiencing growth, especially in the western end of the county with the opening of Lowes Distribution Center and the recently announced decision to build an Advanced Vehicle Research Center. Combined, over 1,000 jobs have been or will be generated.

Mr. Jenkins also lives within the county where he is employed. Additionally, he is the only Manager who works for the county in which he was born and raised.

Enough said about that issue. You do the math on that one before heading out to vote.

My final pre-election stop is in Bertie County. There, two county citizens have declared themselves as write-in candidates for the Bertie Board of Commissioners.

I have two thoughts on that. (1) If either last-minute candidate was so concerned about the welfare of their county, then why didn’t they file and run during the May Primary? (2) The current Board of Commissioners, including the two incumbents challenged by the write-in candidates, have done a fantastic job in providing for their constituents. For proof, look no further than a new county health department, a recently opened countywide recreation complex, a new middle school currently under construction and a new DSS building in the works.

Exercise your right to vote next week, but please vote with an unclouded mind and a clear conscience.