Editorial: Despite election fatigue, voters need to refocus for local races

All the talk in the past week about candidates, nominating petitions and ballot positions has a familiar ring to it.

Yes, it's been just seven weeks since voters gathered to watch returns in the election to select a new president and a host of federal, state and county offices - some outcomes stretched out far longer with recounts and lawsuits - but planning is steaming ahead for the April 6 local elections.

While it may seem like a scene from the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," it marks the next cycle in the election calendar. Voters will have to refocus, familiarize themselves with ballots and choose candidates to fill open seats on hundreds of municipal, school, library, park and township boards.

These contests don't have the star power of a presidential or congressional race, but they are important because they elect the people who serve at the level of government that most directly affects your life. What's at stake? Property taxes, school curriculum, local road projects, park programs and library resources. You get the idea.

Qualified people are needed to make serious, important decisions on local issues. Just as at the federal, state and county levels, putting the best people into office means voters will have to research the candidates and their stand on issues in preparing to make informed decisions.

A key issue in all races is how local governments will move forward from the problems wrought by COVID-19. Candidates at all levels will be asked for their ideas to address financial damage done to government budgets. Municipal government hopefuls must provide thoughts on how to help local business districts recover. Many school board contests will hinge on decisions over student hybrid programs, in-school learning and sports seasons.

Throw in what's likely to be a wee bit of a November election hangover and distractions caused by the pandemic and the vaccine distribution, and voters will have their work cut out to sort through all the information. What should you do? Register to vote if you haven't already done so. Decide if you want to vote early, vote on Election Day or vote by mail, and make the necessary arrangements.

The Daily Herald will help. We'll publish candidate profiles and have coverage of issues and events. You can attend forums and debates to meet candidates and assess their abilities and examine websites and social media sites to compare experience and stances on issues.

Above all, don't sit on the sidelines.

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