Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

column: Don't Ignore Off-Year Elections

If you happen to be a registered voter in Albion -- vote for me on May 3!  If you're not ... well, just don't get caught with that false ID.



            Once upon a time, a serious fire broke out in a downtown business.

            As soon as the Department of Defense got the first 911 call, they dispatched a full alarm assignment of fire trucks from the Department of Homeland Security. EPA firefighters attacked the blaze, while an ambulance from the Centers for Disease Control stood by in case of injuries.           

The streets around the building quickly became impassible due to fire trucks and hose, so several police officers from the FBI were needed to provide traffic and crowd control. They were assisted by employees of the U.S. Department of Transportation, who set up barricades around the area.

            While investigators from the Department of Justice looked into the cause of the blaze, a displaced family from an upstairs apartment received assistance from a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services.

            The large amount of water used in fighting the fire began depleting the town’s supply, so technicians from the Army Corps of Engineers were called in to bring the water works up to its full capacity.

            Together, employees of the Federal Government control local emergencies like this every day.



            No, that’s not how it works, although some people in Washington would have you think so. The first responders to emergencies and disasters in America, major and minor, are dedicated members of local agencies. Feds do get called to disasters, and sometimes even provide help, but by the time they arrive most of the life threatening aspects of an emergency have passed. That’s just one reason why bloated, red tape choked federal agencies are seldom as effective as the same resources divided among local governments. A faceless bureaucrat not only doesn’t know local needs, he just isn’t close enough to provide for them.

            There’s a local primary election coming up in a couple of weeks.

            Yes, it is so connected. Just wait.

            I know, I know – another friggin’ election. Didn’t we do one of those last year? Don’t we vote for President again next year? Could we catch a break, for crying out loud? It’s always been my contention that we could save money and time by having elections only on even years, and don’t even get me started on constant, back to back campaign seasons.

            But that’s not my point at the moment. My concern now is that a lot of people ignore “off year” elections like this one, even though in many ways they’re not less, but more important than national elections.

            What’s that, you say? Isn’t it vital to throw the bums out of Washington?

            Boy, it sure is.

            But the responsibilities of the Federal government are limited by the Constitution (a fact ignored by numerous Congresses and Presidents). While Congress does a bang-up job of ignoring the real problems and spending America over a cliff, most of the day-to-day government actions that directly affect you take place on the local level.

            So who you elect to a town, township, city, county, or school board office is profoundly important to you, the citizen. It’s your responsibility to make those decisions. The people you elect will then be charged with directing the departments and workers that protect your community, and keep modern society functioning day to day.

            It’s employees of county and city dispatch centers who take those 911 call.

            It’s volunteers of the local fire departments that enter that burning building.

            Members of the county EMS treat the victims.

            It’s the local or state police officer, or a volunteer reserve officer living next door to you, whose vigilance catches the bad guys. Most of those bad guys are convicted by prosecutors you not only vote for, but could encounter in the local restaurant.

            Street and highway departments remove debris and let emergency apparatus through after a storm.

            Town and city utility workers keep the clean water coming in, and the bad stuff going out.

            Local volunteers of the Red Cross and other agencies look after displaced families.

            What do federal government agencies do? I mean, on a day to day basis? Mostly they rake in your tax dollars, take a cut off the top to pay for a bunch of paper-pushing bureaucrats, then send stacks of paperwork back to the local governments along with mandates to do things that they seldom help pay for. This results in local governments having to do more and more with less and less, and they don’t get to print their own money to make up for a shortfall.

            Someone has to figure out how to keep things running – usually not with the help of, but despite the Feds. Those someone’s take time out from their families and full time jobs to wade through paperwork, take calls and e-mails, and sit on board meetings on Monday afternoons or Tuesday evenings. Their decisions affect you every day.

            Now, tell me local elections aren’t important.

            I always say this, but it needs to be stressed more here, in these “off year” times that don’t get as much attention. Partially they don’t get attention because local officials think more about local problems, and less about jockeying for political position; maybe part is that by the time local elections roll around we’re all just plain tired.

            But it still needs to be said, yet again: Vote. Educate yourself, pick the best candidate, and take a few minutes to go out and push those buttons.


Tags: albion, column, new era, politics, slightly off the mark

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