Our View: Look to local elections when working toward making change
January 19, 2018
National news may focus on the November midterm elections as this year's political focus, but it's the vote that's closer to home we should talk about.
Federal elections always command more attention. They pull the big money, the television ads and the heated discussion around the water cooler.
But our leaders in Washington, D.C., don't have any control over when our trash gets collected. They don't fret over the location of an undesirable business. And despite protestations from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, our federal leaders aren't delving into setbacks for cannabis grows.
Our community is on the cusp of the June 5 election season. A few local candidates already have filed campaign disclosures. More are on the way, as additional candidates formally announce their intention to run.
There are two seats on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors up for grabs and two on the Nevada City Council. There's also a handful of elected spots like county assessor, auditor-controller, treasurer-tax collector, clerk-recorder registrar of voters, district attorney and sheriff on the June ballot.
The sheriff's race promises to be one of the most high profile of this election season. Sheriff Keith Royal is nearing the end of a 20-year career as the county's top law enforcement officer. The race to replace him already has three people, which could mean a runoff in November if no candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote to cinch the win in June.
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The next sheriff, whoever it is, will take office a year after the legalization of recreational marijuana sales, and likely some months after supervisors pass local grow rules. That person, along with county code enforcement, will enforce the new, local ordinance in a state that's greatly changed over this year.
That probably has more everyday importance to you than how your U.S. representative voted on any given day.
Participation in elections is always important, but even more so when several local offices are at stake. Our policy makers and law enforcement have a level of control over our community that the federal government can't match. It's up to us to ensure our voices are heard at the ballot box.
And the voting population of Nevada County is in a great position to do just that.
Our county is one of a handful participating in a pilot program that will usher in a new way of voting. All Nevada County voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot about a month before June 5. Precincts will become a thing of the past. Instead people will use voting centers, where they can drop off their ballot or vote in person if they choose. Additionally, the county will have designated drop-off spots where voters can leave their ballots.
The key here is to get the most people involved in the process as possible. Our elected leaders are a reflection of the constituency. Those reflections should be as accurate as possible.
Our involvement in our government doesn't have to stop at the ballot box. We need people to run for elected office. A healthy democracy thrives on the marketplace of ideas. The more candidates we have for office, the more ideas we have to choose from.
And despite the current polarization of our politics, there's nothing wrong with having a buffet of ideas.
No government entity is going to appear one day and save us from our problems. No federal lawmaker will fix the problems specific to Nevada County.
That's why it's essential that the people who live here not only vote, but offer themselves for elected office.
It's the people of this county who will address our problems and move this community forward.
And there's no better time to start that movement than today.
The weekly Our View column 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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