I love elections.
Every time a citizen steps into the voting booth, they remind the people who are “in power” of exactly where that power comes from. That reminder is important.
Your vote on Tuesday is also important.
You have a chance to remind the people who will be making decisions about how to govern the city and school district where their power comes from.
At Tuesday’s candidate forum, almost every candidate spoke of their desire to serve the residents of their ward or the city. Competitive elections are a great reminder that their decisions matter. Their power is not achieved. It is granted by you to them.
When you go door-to-door asking for support and hoping for votes, you learn that lesson well. You learn how elections distribute that power and hopefully, that feeling and having to compete at a candidate forum like the one hosted by the Augusta Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night will stick with the successful candidates so that the desire of their constituents is always the main consideration when deciding how to vote.
Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
For this process to work, you have to go to the polls and offer your power to one of the candidates. You have to make your voice heard.
If we don’t vote when given the chance, it damages our entire system.
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone,” Jefferson said. “The people themselves are its only safe depositories.”
During a snowy primary in February just over 500 Augustans voted in three crowded primaries in Wards 1, 2, and 4.
Four years ago, in the General Council Election, almost 600 people voted even though Ward 3 Councilor Mike Rawlings was running unopposed.
In the same General City Council elections in 2010 almost 750 people made it to the voting booth.
With competitive elections to be decided in all four wards on Tuesday, I will be shocked if less than 1,000 people cast a ballot.
These elections are important.
A new city manager will be chosen. Water restrictions will be tightened or removed. The levee will be completed. Roads will be paved or left unrepaired. Parks will be built and removed. A new water line to El Dorado is being constructed and a project to use Walnut River water to keep our lake full during non-peak times is being considered.
The four people who are elected Tuesday will have a say in how all of these decisions are made.
Page 2 of 2 - I have publicly endorsed candidates before and I could in all four of these races even though I only get a vote in Ward Two. But I am certain that advice from our nation’s sixth President will be more beneficial to you than my opinion on the matter.
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost,” said John Quincy Adams.
There is a lot at stake for Augusta voters Tuesday and a lot of good people have sacrificed their own time and money in an attempt to win your vote and hopefully the honor of making these tough decisions on your behalf.
Voting is more than a privilege. It is a right. Rights can be taken away, but more often they are given away by people who don’t exercise them.
Make your voice heard Tuesday.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: email@example.com