Column: Why you should vote in Tuesday's school board election

Jennifer Hemmingsen
Published: September 7 2013 | 7:52 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 8:07 pm in

Throughout your childhood, Mom was on your case about homework. Now here I am, nagging you about voting in this week’s school board election.

I feel for you. I really do. But I’m not going to let that stop me from reminding you, once again this cycle, why you should take a few minutes of your time on Tuesday and vote.

First of all, your kids — and my kids, your neighbor kids and all our kids — need you to take a look at the candidates in contested races and choose the board members you think will serve them best.

The kids can’t vote, but they’ll have to live with the direction set and decisions made by the folks who win. Don’t leave that to chance.

Second, school boards authorize the expenditure of lots of money. Public money. Your money. You want competent, committed, inquisitive people holding the purse strings. Beyond that, you’ll want someone whose spending priorities and philosophies are more-or-less aligned with your own.

Because, and here’s the third reason, even if you haven’t been paying attention lately to your school board’s decisions, chances are good that sometime in the next four years they will take action on an issue you care about. They’ll consider upgrades and programs, maybe redistricting, opening or closing a school. Speaking up now won’t guarantee you’ll agree with every board decision, but it will help shape the conversation.

Your voice matters in robust races such as Iowa City schools — where nine candidates, with a wide range of ideas and experiences, are vying for three at-large seats in the midst of important discussions about facilities and communication and diversity.

It matters in Cedar Rapids schools’ lone contested race, where Lawrence Wenclawski is challenging incumbent Keith Westercamp for his District 3 seat.

If your district has no contested races to decide, there likely are questions of whether or not to renew facilities and instructional levies that need your two cents.

If none of that is enough to lure you to the polls Tuesday, consider this: With traditionally low voter turnout (often in the single digits), there are few elections where your vote will carry more weight.

Last, the candidates have shown up and volunteered to serve — for that they deserve our thanks.

The very best way to do that? Vote.

Comments: (319) 339-3154; jennifer.hemmingsen@

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