Every vote matters

The field of candidates for mayor, council and city school hoards in Hartselle, Decatur  and other municipalities in Morgan County was decided last week when the qualifying deadline ended. In races where competition exists, campaigning is well underway. The yard signs, political cards and verbal requests for voter support we’re witnessing are timely signs that the August 23 Municipal Election is less than a month away.

Obviously, all of the candidates don’t bring the same qualifications to the positions of public trust they are seeking. Therefore, the undecided voter has some work to do to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As a longtime voter, I detested going to the polls and having to choose between two candidates about whom I knew nothing more than their name, age and occupation. How much more reassured I would’ve felt had I taken the time to  look them up and solicit answers to questions like these: “Why are you seeking a public office?”, “What is Hartselle’s greatest attribute” and ”what can you do improve the city?”

Social media has become an effective means of gleaning information about political candidates. The same can be said for talking with family members, co-workers and neighbors.

The candidates themselves can bridge the information gap with house-to-house visits and  printed brochures containing biographical details and campaign platforms.

Why go to all that trouble to learn more about who it is that’s running? “It’s all about keeping the reins of local government in the hands of dedicated, competent elected officials. They are the ones who care about making sure our neighborhoods and streets are safe, our children and grandchildren get a quality education and the garbage and trash are picked up on schedule.

A single vote is all it takes to win or lose an election. That’s why your vote is so important in every political race.

Hartselle voters learned the hard way that every vote matters in the early 1970s when then Councilman John D. Long and former Mayor John Burleson ended up in a mayoral race separated by a single vote. Burleson led Long by one vote after the final tally was made. However, his lead was the result of a challenge ballot. Long contested the outcome and, with litigation pending, Burleson and Long got together and both agreed to withdraw and let the city council pick one of its own to serve as mayor. That responsibility ultimately fell in the hands of John Reynolds.

 

Clif Knight is a writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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