Robert Ehlert: Municipal elections’ importance should be obvious to all of us

rehlert@idahostatesman.comNovember 2, 2013 

Robert Ehlert

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Someone once said that if you have to beg someone to vote, then maybe that person shouldn’t be voting. I agree.

I won’t do any begging here today, but I will provide some information about the importance of the municipal elections Tuesday in Idaho.

More than 50 candidates are running for various city council seats in the Treasure Valley. There are mayoral races in Caldwell and Nampa. The people elected will represent you and decide how to spend your tax dollars. They’ll have great influence over the level and quality of the public safety agencies you depend upon. In ways large and small, their decisions will affect your life.

In Boise, for instance, three council incumbents who are running this year helped shape and promote two bond measures on the ballot that total more than $32 million for public safety and parks/open space enhancements.

If passed by a two-thirds majority in the Tuesday election, the bonds will cost taxpayers more than $50 million (if you include fees and interest) over the next 20 years.

Though there are some seasoned and experienced elected officials running in these Treasure Valley municipal races, there are also plenty of new faces. They are people just like you. They might be your neighbors, folks who have decided to take the leap into politics so they can serve.

I want to congratulate all of the candidates who have made the commitment to run, to get involved, to test their ability to solve problems and create policy. It is not easy. Though most positions are paid, you don’t want to know what the hourly wage would average out to be — at times, it can be a 24/7 job, with the perks of occasional thanks and criticism.

For several weeks now the candidates have been out there providing information, answering questions, knocking on doors and using a variety of other means to get their message to you.

One of the things they have done is to respond to our request for information for our Voter Guide at IdahoStatesman.com/election. Each has provided a brief biography and responded to our questions regarding issues in their respective communities.

Will your vote count?

It always counts, but even moreso in a municipal election, when there typically are fewer people voting.

In certain council seats in Meridian, where a total of 2,000 to 4,000 votes might be cast, they are going to be divided among as many as six candidates.

During a recent council election in Star a seat was decided by only one vote.

Though early voting and absentee ballots are popular options, Idaho election officials say 75 percent of us still go to the polls on Election Day.

See you there.

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