Published 5:51 pm Sunday, November 1, 2009
The polls will open in every small town in the Roanoke-Chowan area Tuesday, but if history is any indication, few people will bother to vote in what is, arguably, the most important act of democracy there is.
Municipal elections, held every other year, determine the makeup of local government, which is the governing body for the vast majority of the things held most dear by townspeople.
People living in town are affected more directly, more often and more intimately by their municipal governments than they are by what happens in Raleigh or Washington.
Services that are used every day – water, trash, sewer, streets and taxes – are determined by the town council.
These things do not get the attention of the state or national press like the more esoteric issues of national defense and trade policies, but they have a far greater impact and are far more susceptible to the will of the people than those big ticket items handled by state and federal governments.
The people elected to the town council drink the same water the voters drink, they use the same sewer system, their trash and yard debris is picked up by the same trucks and crews, they drive down the same streets, and they pay the same taxes. Municipal officials are relatives, neighbors, friends or co-workers.
Despite their importance to the life of the town, however, municipal elections sometime attract less than 10 percent of the eligible voters, and rarely attract more than 20 percent.
This Tuesday, townspeople in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties have a choice – ignore the election and let others decide how your town is run or take a few minutes out of your day to make the decision yourself.
Participate in democracy that really counts by voting Nov. 3 for the candidates of your choice.