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Let election involvement linger past November

October 19, 2008|By BILL KOHLER

Wow. What an exciting time in which we live.

The last several weeks have been frightening, exhilarating and eye opening all at the same time.

And challenging, too.

One of the most challenging things for me the past few weeks besides looking at my 401(k) statement was getting a grip on the presidential race. Barack Obama and John McCain actually want to be president? They want to inherit the mess left behind? More power to them.

My dilemma as a cynical 42-year-old father, husband and on-time bill payer is deciding who will be the lesser of the two evils.

Despite the barrage of ads touting obscure facts and twisting the candidates' voting records, I still have not made up my mind on the presidential race. I will continue to weigh the facts, watch the speeches, listen to the pundits and read stories in the paper.

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And that's the beauty of our Democracy - I can make up my own mind and don't have to feel pressured into voting for the status quo or the current regime. I explained this privilege to my 7-year-old this week and she seemed impressed. Well, as impressed as a second-grader can be with Daddy's "wisdom."

What impresses me is the excitement being generated by this election. We are at a crossroads in our nation's history and we need sane, sound voices to lead us. While there is plenty of blustering nonsense out there, I've been impressed with some of the thoughts of regular people. They demand a change and they want a stronger voice than what has represented them in Washington and in their state capitals and county courthouses.

So this brings me to my point - and it's one I've written about before.

I'm thrilled we are so gung-ho and engaged in this election. Voter registration numbers are soaring across the country and in the Tri-State area.

A new administration will occupy the White House and perhaps get us out of the Iraqi quagmire and the financial mess. People are interested and should turn out in record numbers.

However, we need to carry that excitement into our local elections, which are more important than who wins the race for the White House on Nov. 4.

Think about the things that have the most impact on you - money, family, work, schools, shopping, driving.

Our local people have more impact on those things than the president or even your U.S. senator or congressperson.

The local supervisors, county commissioners, borough council members and school board members are the ones who make the REALLY important decisions that affect your pocketbook and your communities.

These local races are the ones for which we need to do our homework. These are the races that the newspaper needs to inform you about (of which we are in the process through the rest of the month) and we should be reading and listening.

Shameless promo: All of our election stories are conveniently posted on the Herald-Mail's Web site (www.herald-mail.com).

If you have any suggestions on how we can do this better, send an e-mail to me (billk@herald-mail.com) or city editor Linda Duffield (lindad@herald-mail.com).

And when it's all over, stay engaged in the process. Join a political party in your county, start a blog on local politics, demand that local school boards and township supervisors are transparent and that they don't hide behind their lawyers.

And best of all, get off your couch and away from the PC and run for office. If you're so angered by the behavior of your representatives, take action, don't just shout. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or by e-mail at billk@herald-mail.com.

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