It’s the custom on the Monday before an election for The Mercury to urge citizens to vote — and to cast informed ballots on Tuesday.
Sometimes we appeal to residents’ sense of citizenship or ask lazy residents to dig themselves out of their easy chairs and head to the polls. Sometimes we remind residents how easy voting is (bring a photo ID) or that they’ll likely run into people they know when they go to the polls. And of course, we say every vote counts… because it does. Former City Commissioner Jayme Morris-Hardeman once lost a seat on the Manhattan City Commission in a coin-toss because she and another candidate drew the same number of votes.
We’ve generally resisted a claim we’ve heard in countless campaigns… that this election is the most important election ever. Who’s to know? In our view, they’re all important, including tomorrow’s.
It’s important because the direction the city will take in the immediate future is at stake. The central issue involves what the City Commission’s priorities ought to be.
For several of the candidates, the clear priority is repaying the city’s debt and in the process reducing residents’ property tax bills. Nuances separate these candidates, but they’d like to reduce the city’s support of social services and are disinclined to commit the city further to public transportation or recreational projects.
Other candidates support a different approach. Though like the first group of candidates, they don’t all think alike, most would at least maintain, if not expand, city involvement in social services and public transportation and would generally be more oriented toward the needs of citizens.
Both sides have plenty of supporters. What’s less clear is how many committed supporters — the citizens who care enough to vote — there are out there. That’s what matters. It is our hope that both sides draw large numbers of voters to the polls because issues as important as the direction of the city shouldn’t be decided by a 20-percent voter turnout.
That’s happened too often in recent years, sometimes resulting in liberal commissions and other times in conservative commissions. We hope residents who support particular candidates — conservative or liberal — do more than cheer from the sidelines.
We hope they vote; that’s the single best thing voters can do to help their candidates win.