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Our View: It’s time to vote

The Union Editorial Board

The election came down to three votes.

It had been back and forth for some time. Nevada City Councilwoman Evans Phelps battled with challenger Erin Minett over who would win the second of two seats in the 2018 election.

At first, it appeared Phelps had the win. As votes trickled in, the tally began to change. It swung, back and forth, until finally — with all votes accounted for — Minett had won.

By three votes.

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On Tuesday, Nevada County residents get another chance to select who will represent them at the local, state and federal levels. The March 3 election will narrow the field for statewide offices for the Assembly and Senate, as well as members of the U.S. House of Representatives. We’ll pick those winners in November after winnowing the field on Tuesday.

Other contests we’ll know Tuesday night, or a few days afterward, depending on how close the vote is. We’ll decide a parcel tax for Higgins Fire Protection District, and a bond issue for Penn Valley Union Elementary School District.

There’s a chance we’ll know the outcome of the District 1 Board of Supervisors race, if one candidate can get 50% of the vote, plus one vote, on Tuesday. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to November.

That won’t be the case with the Nevada City Council. It might take some weeks, as it did two years ago, but we’ll soon know the three people who will take seats on the council for four-year terms.

And who knows — maybe voters will decide one of those seats by three votes. Or less.

The cliché about every vote matters is not a tired saying in this county. Nevada City Council members are chosen by less than a handful of votes. The Higgins parcel tax, going for its fourth try in 10 years, once came within 29 votes of passing.

Voting is easy. Becoming an informed, educated voter is harder, but not by much in this county.

You can find candidates holding informal meetings at coffee shops. They speak to the local media. They appeared, for the most part, at a series of forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.

These in-person interactions, forums and interviews provide vital information for voters. Add some thoughtful and persuasive letters to the editor and you’ve got yourself the makings of a vibrant, informed electorate.

How many countries in recorded history have enshrined the right to vote to every citizen upon reaching a certain age? Sure, we have our foibles and stumbles, and we have more than our share of vitriol, but these are expected in a free society.

What we also have is the regular, peaceful exchange of power based on who gets the most votes.

Everyone who has the right to vote should acknowledge what it is — a right — and act on it.

There’s more, much more, at stake than a presidential primary. Races from Nevada City Council to the U.S. House of Representatives are on your ballot. It’s not a chore to cast a ballot. It’s a responsibility, regardless of age, to learn about the candidates and vote.

You never know. It just might be one of three ballots that tips the race in favor of your candidate.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.


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