5-28 edit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 1, 2004

In just five days, citizens across Alabama — including West Alabama — won’t just return to work after a Memorial Day vacation. They’ll perform the most important civic duty Americans enjoy.

West Alabama, like many other rural areas of the state, still lives by the rule that local politicians must run on the Democratic ticket. Few, if any, candidates run as Republicans on the local level — though the statewide trend is much different.

Because our rural communities remain committed to a one-party system, the primary elections on Tuesday, June 1, are tantamount to November’s Super Tuesday. In other words, this coming Tuesday is the only election that matters for local offices.

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In our region, we fall short of producing adequate forums that allow candidates the opportunity to share their beliefs and plans for elected offices. Debates are few and poorly attended.

Because of that, citizens in our area have an even greater obligation when they go to the polls. An uneducated electorate, in any place, can be considered a danger to society. If we put the wrong people in office, we minimize the importance of strong leadership. If we put the right people in office, we bolster the status of our leadership, thus bolstering the strength of our region.

In that light, constituents have a duty — more here than in other places — to educate themselves on the candidates. Those who truly care about the progress and stability of our communities must make the political process a priority, and they must do so with wisdom and real concern.

Marengo County Probate Judge Cindy Neilson recently questioned voter turnout for Tuesday’s election. For one, this primary falls one day after a holiday, meaning many will not be in town to cast ballots. Secondly, there are no real “controversial” elections this cycle. Sure, there are important elections, but campaigns have done little to stir the emotions of constituents.

Whether or not you have an emotional leaning toward one candidate over another should not matter. While men and women are overseas fighting for the freedom of other nations, we have a binding pledge to those who sacrifice that we will, indeed, enjoy and respect our freedoms.

Along with matters of faith, the election of men and women who serve our government is chief among our freedoms.

We encourage citizens to take part in Tuesday’s primary election. Yes, low voter turnout is expected. Then again, the men and women we elect to office represent the entirety of our region, and we have a obligation to help select them.