Advertisement

Hagerstown's elections: Time to hike that turnout

January 30, 2001

Hagerstown's elections: Time to hike that turnout



Like a crowd of taxpayers heading to the post office on April 15, a last-minute rush of candidates declared for the Hagerstown city election on Friday, the last day to file. Citizens can argue about many things, but with 17 candidates for council and three for mayor, they can't say they have no choices.

Shortly we'll identify some issues we believe are important in this race, but as the campaign begins, we'd like to make a pitch for citizen participation. In the 1997 city primary, only 10 percent of the eligible voters turned out, with the general election drawing only 21.67 percent participation.

It was the lowest vote total since 1981, when almost half the city's eligible voters went to polls, and part of a trend that saw totals slip in three subsequent elections to 39 percent, 35 percent and 30 percent.

It is not a record to be proud of. Though the '97 election's low turnout can be explained in part by the low-key campaign for the mayor's post, which featured an overconfident incumbent versus a challenger who quietly worked the city's neighborhoods door-to-door, lack of excitement is not an excuse for voter apathy.

Advertisement

It's a citizen's responsibility to study the issues, examine what the candidates say in their profiles and their written statements, then make the best possible choice. In this work, they'll be helped by The Herald-Mail, which will profile each candidate and question them on the issues. We're sure television and radio will do their part as well.

None of this matters, however, unless citizens pay attention. They shouldn't do that just for financial reasons, although who gets elected will probably affect the size of the city budget.

The real reason to do it is that a long time ago, before there were so many creature comforts to divert the citizens, many people fought a war, and sometimes died, to give us the gift of representative government. What an insult it would be, to their memories and to those giving up their privacy and personal time to run, for citizens not to participate.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|