I spent most of my nearly 37 years in daily journalism as an opinion writer and editor and as such, I spent a lot of energy exhorting residents of the communities where I worked to vote in local elections.
I implored them. I pleaded with them. I thought of different ways to say the same thing — which was to “get out and vote.”
Each of those efforts produced mixed results. In Oregon City, Ore., in Beaumont, Texas, and in Amarillo, Texas, the calls essentially were the same: The local level is where government makes the greatest impact on your daily lives. Don’t cede the responsibility of picking who you want to sit on your city council, your school board, your county commissioners court to someone else.
Well, we’re on the verge of another municipal election in Amarillo.
This one is guaranteed to produce a significant change in the makeup of the governing council. Three incumbents aren’t seeking new terms. That means the next City Council will comprise a new majority. Mayor Paul Harpole is bowing out; Place 2 Councilwoman Lisa Blake decided against seeking election to the seat to which she was appointed in 2016; Place 3 Councilman Randy Burkett is forgoing a re-election bid for a second term.
A new majority is going to take office after the May 6 election. Not only that, we’ve got a new city manager, Jared Miller, who’s already seized the administrative reins of power. He’s making his own mark on City Hall.
Will this be the year when a healthy percentage of eligible voters actually cast ballots? Oh, I do hope so.
After all, this is where government makes the decisions that affect us. It’s where we pay to pave our streets, provide cops on the beat, firefighters to keep us safe, to ensure clean drinking water, to provide safe and clean parks, to pick up our garbage.
These are important matters, folks.
How about making your voice heard on Election Day? It’s less than one month away. Do not let your neighbors — or total strangers, for that matter — make this decision for you.