EDITORIAL: Municipal elections

Tuesday’s general election in most of Northeast Mississippi’s municipalities is the final chance until 2013 for voters to guide the course of their home communities.
It’s the vote that counts ultimately in forming governments for the next four-year term, and most of the seats and positions are contested, with several ballots of all-independent candidates.
All towns and cities have issues specific to their electorates, and most of those have nothing to do with the faraway world of national, partisan politics. The issues national parties and candidates debate are important, but municipal elections have a different kind of importance in issues.
Streets, schools, water, sidewalks, sewer lines, garbage disposal, neighborhood integrity, local economic development and respectful debate of differences form the profile of issues with which cities in Northeast Mississippi deal, plus property taxation to fund city services.
Even in larger regional municipalities like Oxford, Tupelo and Starkville, many if not most voters can claim a first-name acquaintance with candidates. They are up close for examination, and voters tend to know much more about who they are and what they believe about governance.
Those factors should draw heavier turnouts because the possibility of holding those elected directly responsible is much higher than for even state offices.
Turnout sadly often doesn’t match expectations or the importance of the elections.
We believe voting is a singularly important responsibility in local elections because governance in so many ways affects quality of life, opportunities for prosperity, and lifelong well-being.
It is government at its closest and most compact level, bearing on almost everything, including the proverbial barking dog in a neighbor’s back yard.
The precinct polls often are different in city elections than in county elections, so checking before leaving to vote might save time and irritation. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Don’t miss the greatest privilege of citizenship, one that always holds the potential to make a difference – as you prefer.

NEMS Daily Journal