Gazette Editorial Board
It’s Election Day in Iowa, although the lead-up has been relatively low-key in most Eastern Iowa communities.
There was no deluge of campaign ads on the airwaves. No stump speeches delivered to crowds of supporters on the steps of local landmarks. No political photo ops.
No, there’s not much fanfare over local school elections, just the grass roots business of committed local citizens asking voters to elect them to serve.
Maybe that’s one reason voter turnout for school board elections has been consistently, shamefully low — often in the single digits. There’s not a lot of pomp and circumstance.
Still, it’s important that voters take a few minutes today and cast a ballot in their local school elections.
With turnout so low, individual votes carry much more weight than they do in a general election. Too bad, because we all have a stake in the outcome — even if we don’t have kids in school.
We suppose people forget, or just don’t bother. Maybe they feel their vote doesn’t really matter. Or that a low-profile election must have little at stake. Not true.
School board elections are an important exercise of our democratic freedom and responsibility. The office, though volunteer, shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Local boards of education are responsible for setting policy affecting thousands of local students. They oversee tax-funded budgets that often are larger than city budgets. They guide administrators responsible for employing hundreds of teachers and other professionals.
Even in uncontested races, there often are questions of facilities and instructional levies that demand informed voters’ opinions.
It’s not too late to familiarize yourself with the candidates and issues and cast a vote before the polls close this evening.
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