Local elections just as important

Published 10:36 am Monday, October 31, 2016

This past week I was on vacation. I didn’t go anywhere. It was a staycation. I enjoyed time at home just resting, playing with grandkids and piddling around the house.

I also spent much less time on the internet. Working in media, the best way to unwind is not paying too much attention to the news. As I write this, I couldn’t tell you the latest gossip about either presidential candidate, to which I’m grateful. What a mess.

No doubt, people are very passionate about this election on both sides. We’ve all had friends or family members turn into people we don’t recognize during this election. Some of us might have lost a friend or two on social media (I use the word friend loosely because I don’t think someone who “unfriends” you over political differences is truly a friend at all).

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I hope this passion shows up at the polls next week and whoever is elected president is done so by a large percentage of the people they will represent. I’m not sure who made Election Day in early November but I am grateful to them.

I am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season being free from campaign nonsense. Could you imagine Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday gatherings? We can’t even get along on the internet, never mind putting a large group of people in one room combined with spirits discussing things like abortion and gun rights.

However, January isn’t too far away and I’m sure the most vocal from the two sides of the political coin will be back at insults, arguments and “unfriendings” once the new president takes office.

The new year will bring with it another election season, one equally as important but much less volatile. Residents in Oxford will be electing aldermen and a mayor in 2017 and it would be nice to see the same passion, albeit less fighting, for our local elections, as our local government affects our lives on a day-to-day basis more so than the president.

Our city leaders set our property taxes. They decide where to build new roads. They vote on whether we need to expand our city limits into the county. The decide how big a fence can be in our front yard. They balance the city’s budget and work with their constituents to solve issues like flooding and litter in their neighborhoods.

Our Oxford aldermen and mayor make decisions daily that can affect every one of us living in Oxford. While they aren’t voting on whether to enact stronger gun control or strengthening borders around our country, their decisions can affect the local economy, land values and the number of jobs available to our residents.

Come January, the qualification period will open for people to run for these positions. The board recently approved pay raises for the aldermen and mayor who are elected in June in hopes of getting more people to run for these offices.

Citizens can help the elections get off to a better start than our presidential election by getting involved and offering voters more candidates to choose from. Not everyone wants to run for a local office but everyone probably knows someone who should. Reach out to those people you think would best represent your hometown and encourage them to run for office.

Help them campaign. Encourage people to vote. Local elections are generally less dramatic with very little drama. It’s your neighbors wanting to become a party of the machine that helps this community run smoothly.

And every vote in local elections truly does count. I’ve seen an aldermen race decided by eight votes.

Municipal elections are truly an example of democracy, generally free of pettiness and expensive slanderous commercials. They’re much more enjoyable to be a part of and I can almost guarantee there will be fewer “unfriendings” happening on social media over who will become Oxford’s next mayor.

alyssa schnugg is Senior Writer at the EAGLE. Write to her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com