District elections warrant more voter attention
Raise your hand if you know that another election is about take place within the next month. OK, keep those hands up if you know what Crook County offices are up for grabs or who is running for those offices.
Whether most people realize it or not, local voters will soon see another ballot in their mailbox toward the end of this month. Having just endured a very contentious build-up to a historic general election, it is easy to understand how people might assume their obligation as voters is over for a couple more years. But we think that would be a mistake and hope to see people open their ballots and cast votes for this May's district election.
The district elections take place on the odd-numbered years, such as this one, and people are asked to vote for who will serve on such governing bodies as the Crook County School Board, Fire and Rescue Board, Parks and Recreation Board and Cemetery District Board. In addition, a various residents in certain county subdivisions will decide who oversees their water districts.
Unfortunately, the turnout for these elections is most often poor — the 2015 district election registered a voter turnout of just 23 percent. Those candidates, and those boards, deserve more voter participation and interest from the public. Consider that the people running for these offices will make important decisions on Crook County's public education system, its fire protection and perhaps most noteworthy this year, its parks and recreation district, which is currently considering replacement of the local swimming pool.
We understand why people would choose not to cast a ballot. There are no money measures to affect the pocketbook, few races are contested and without any campaign signs visible like most elections, it is easy to forget there is anything, or anybody, to vote for.
But to forget is to sit out the process of deciding who will lead the parks and recreation district as it works toward development of a new pool proposal. Though most districts do not feature contested races, two positions on the Parks and Recreation Board feature two candidates. Would different candidates approach the situation differently? Might it be good to find out and cast your vote accordingly? Yes.
Not only do we hope more people will participate in this district election, we hope to see it continue in subsequent years. Maybe next time, the school board or the fire and rescue board will feature more choices to fill its offices. Perhaps a different local district will have an important decision to make.
These districts don't have the same visibility as the Crook County Court or Prineville City Council, but these are still local leaders seeking positions in which they will make critical decisions. Their elections deserve more attention and we hope that voters realize that and take time to return a ballot.