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Be involved in making decisions

While I’ve lived in Lafayette County for more than five months now, I still feel as though I’m an outsider looking in and learning to be an Oxonian. It can be a curse and a blessing. A curse in that I’m still gaining acceptance in the community, but a blessing in that I can view issues from a different perspective than many who have lived here all their lives or a majority of their lives.

One major issue that has dominated the headlines since I arrived in June — and I’m sure has been a hot-button topic long before I arrived — is growth both inside and outside Oxford.

There are so many great things that are happening — watershed moments in the history of this community. A new hospital is under construction, new businesses seem to be opening every day and this area appears to be enjoying prosperity like never seen before.

But along with that unprecedented growth comes responsibility and tough decisions from our elected officials on how best to control and drive that growth.

However, we as residents also share in that responsibility by becoming involved and attending meetings of our elected officials, as well as those of planning commissions and other board meetings that involve decisions that affect the future of our community.

So often times we in the media hear from residents who complain about decisions that affect them after those decisions already have been made during public meetings. Rarely is there a large crowd attending these meetings of our elected officials.

That’s why I urge you to get involved with the decisions that will be made soon and voice your view about the direction of growth in the community when it comes to Vision 2037 in Oxford. Eventually the county also will be making decisions about how growth will be controlled.

The decisions that soon will be made not only affect current growth, but also future growth, and the path we take as a community will impact the generations that follow. That’s why it is imperative for residents to become involved at these meetings rather than find out later the decisions have been made without input.

That responsibility also includes going to the polls to vote for the candidate you feel represents you the best in your views.

We have a huge general election coming up on Nov. 3 with not only a ballot initiative that impacts public education, but also statewide and local races.

The primary election and primary runoff election were horrendous when it came to registered voters going to the polls. Less than 20 percent of the voters in Lafayette County bothered to cast a ballot, which is deplorable and quite embarrassing. One candidate who spoke to our editorial board meeting recently when asked about the low turnout said he has been told by more than one registered voter that the reason they don’t vote is because they don’t want to be called for jury duty.

How ridiculous.

There will always be voter apathy, but when decisions are being made and you don’t take time to vote, then you lose the right to complain when you refuse to exercise your right to cast a ballot.

Rob Sigler is the managing editor of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.