Decision time

Community members headed to the polls in August at the Massey Learning Center in Watertown to vote on their school district’s proposed budgets and school board nominees. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Change will come to numerous municipalities as a result of Tuesday’s general election, and people throughout Northern New York need to participate.

For example, voters will cast ballots for mayor in the village of Clayton and the city of Watertown. Lewis County residents will choose a new treasurer. And the town boards in Massena and Potsdam have competitive races.

Needless to say, there are plenty of positions to be filled. We hope readers have been reviewing the credentials of the candidates in their communities so they can make informed decisions.

The way we practice democracy in this country can be messy, and we’re often left feeling less than satisfied with the results. That many individuals are reluctant to become involved with the electoral process is understandable.

But our form of self-government requires Americans to stop sitting on their hands and find their way to the polls on Election Day. If they don’t want to take the time to select those who will represent them on various public bodies, they shouldn’t complain about how bad things have become.

Residents need to be aware of the referendum measures they’ll vote on in addition to the candidates. These will appear on the back of their ballots, so they need to turn the ballots over and make sure to choose one of the options.

In Jefferson County, people in the town of Alexandria will have two ballot issues pertaining to the potential development of a recreation center. In Lewis County, residents in the town of Osceola will decide on the annual contribution to the Osceola Public Library. And St. Lawrence County voters will cast ballots on issues concerning the highway superintendent in the town of Canton and Massena Memorial Hospital in the town of Massena.

As we have declared on this page in the past, change for the better only takes place when enough residents push their elected officials to make it happen. And the primary tool that people have to light a fire under the feet of their community leaders is an election.

Higher participation rates on the part of voters make public officials take notice. Many people believe that money is the most influential factor in a political campaign, and it certainly helps candidates spread their respective messages to wider audiences.

But elective offices become filled when people vote individuals into those posts. Money can do a lot to sway people to a particular candidate or a specific position, but voting still needs to take place. People who are motivated to support a person get more of what they want than those who don’t know whom they wish to vote for or those who can’t bother themselves enough to cast a ballot.

The strength of our system of government depends on how engaged all of us are, and this is demonstrated most effectively through the act of voting. Understand who the candidates in your region are and what they stand for, and make it to the polls to cast a ballot. Voting is a right, and society goes downhill when we take it for granted.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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