Plenty of time left

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In the wake of last year’s presidential election, elections for offices on the ballots this year historically bring out less voters — a lot less voters.

This November, Beaufort County residents vote for mayors and aldermen, councilmen and town commissioners, as opposed to presidents, senators and congressmen. There’s far less money involved, far less advertising bombarding television viewers and seemingly far less interest in the people who occupy those offices at home as opposed to Washington, D.C.

This year’s election, however, might prove to be a little different simply because an unusual number of people are running for office in Belhaven and Washington. The vote can only be split so many ways, and in Washington that means each of the 10 candidates running for city council is going to have to hustle to ensure he or she earns enough votes to fill one of five seats available on the council. In Belhaven, five people are vying for the mayor’s seat.

Traditionally, voter turnout has been so low in municipal election years that votes count in hundreds, compared to the nearly 24,000 votes cast in the 2016 presidential election. Beaufort County has a little more than 33,000 registered voters.

More names on the ballots mean more voters paying attention and more dialogue happening about why so many people are putting themselves out there to serve the community.

As stated in a previous Daily News editorial, “These candidates are neighbors, friends or acquaintances. They are the ones to which the public has the most open access.

Local officials can affect the quality of children’s education, they can affect whether road infrastructure, such as traffic lights and speed bumps, are maintained, they make the rules as to where businesses or private citizens are allowed to build and they can help to ensure a town’s economic growth.”

These are the people who will, depending on where the votes go, have the ability to affect the everyday lives of residents of Aurora, Bath, Belhaven, Chocowinity, Pantego, Washington and Washington Park. It’s important to know them and know what has motivated them to run for office.

That so many people are running for office is encouraging. Each and every one, by stating their intentions, has proven they care about their communities. Now it’s the voters turn to care about putting the ones in office who will best serve those communities.

There’s plenty of time left before Election Day — and plenty of time to get to know the candidates.