Editorial: Time for voters to gear up for spring election

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted12/19/2016 2:00 PM
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  • Campaigns are officially under way for the April 4 elections to local school and government offices.

    Campaigns are officially under way for the April 4 elections to local school and government offices. Daily Herald File Photo

We wouldn't be surprised if many of you are still nursing an election hangover. We feel it too.

It's been just six weeks since votes were counted in races on the Nov. 8 ballot, but the memory of bruising battles for president, U.S. Senate, state legislature, county offices and more still lingers. The season was grueling. Its overall tone was often nasty, and most people were likely relieved when it finally ended.

But now we find ourselves again being asked to answer democracy's call as candidates running in local municipal, school, library, park and township races will be seeking support this spring. Although not as high profile as the previous election, the April 4 ballot is as important -- if not more so -- because the races it contains are in your back yard.

Scores of candidates across the suburbs have completed filing nominating papers to reserve a spot on the ballot. Some are political veterans with familiar names, while others are newcomers seeking office for the first time. Together, they will run for seats on boards that will make important decisions that directly affect you.

The people who are elected to local government boards will have a hand in deciding how much you'll pay in property taxes and other fees, what classes are taught in local schools, whether facilities will be built, roads repaired or programs offered and a whole lot more.

The ballot also is likely to include some referendum questions from governments seeking voter approval for initiatives to raise your taxes.

With so much at stake, it's critical each voter learn about the races and get involved.

Voter fatigue is not an option -- whether because of the short gap between elections, the number of races on the ballot or what might seem like somewhat obscure units of government.

Being a prepared and informed voter will take some time and effort. You'll have to determine which races are on your individual ballot and learn about the candidates and their positions on important issues and how they square with how you want to be represented.

You'll want to investigate candidate websites and read position papers. Going to candidate meet-and-greets and forums is a good way to ask questions and see the hopefuls in action as they respond and interact. If you aren't registered to vote, it's a painless process.

The Daily Herald will help. We'll let you know who is running, and write print and online stories about candidates' stands on important local issues. We'll publish candidates' responses to an online questionnaire and cover election forums and other events. We'll make our recommendations in contested races.

But, ultimately it will be up to you to get involved. In the midst of a frigid and snow-covered holiday season, April 4 seems a long way off. But the election will be here before we know it, and the campaigning is already getting under way. The time to start paying attention to these critical local elections is now.

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