Local elections matter

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Less than a quarter of the eligible voters in Beaufort County turned out for Tuesday’s municipal elections.

That means 22.6 percent of eligible voters decided who would be in positions of power at the local level, according to data from the Beaufort County Board of Elections. Although municipal elections historically see lower turnout, they are arguably the most important ones.

The local level is the level that affects residents the most. Local government determines property taxes, where certain businesses and residences can be located, how tax dollars are directly spent and/or whether a stoplight will be installed around the corner. Local government is in charge of those tangible aspects that affect residents in their daily lives.

Unfortunately, many people forget the importance of municipal elections. Voters would much rather weigh in on a controversial presidential candidate, than turn the television channel to watch a city council meeting.

It’s true: talk of taxes, streetscaping or zoning regulations can be boring. There is often little drama, and many of the discussions seem either dense or extraneous to everyday life.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. Most people would rather discuss President Donald Trump’s Twitter habits instead of learning about property taxes. At the end of the day, however, it’s those property taxes that will affect residents directly. Those tax numbers will show up on a direct bill to one’s residence, while Trump’s controversial statements will soon be forgotten.

It’s too late to change course now. The 2017 municipal elections are over and done with, and candidate decisions are made.

Next time, think about the consequences of not voting. It’s an apathetic choice, not to mention an irresponsible one. Citizens of Beaufort County can do better — and they should do better.