Special district elections should get more voter attention
They may not get the same local attention or fanfare that the other elections receive. In fact, one could argue they don't get as much exposure as they should.
Crook County's special districts election will take place this May where positions on several boards will be decided. The people who are tasked with making policy decisions for the public schools will be chosen. Those who will help guide the future of the local parks and recreational opportunities in Crook County will be on the ballot. The group of people that Crook County Fire and Rescue turns to as they seek to provide the best service possible? Some of them will appear on the ballot as well. And though they impact a much smaller sect of the population, some voters will decide who controls the water districts for their neighborhoods.
It is safe to say that schools, fire protection and recreational amenities mean a lot to people in this community and touch the lives of all residents at some point in time. Yet if you look at the results of those elections through the years, the numbers seem to betray that importance. The 2017 special districts election generated a very low turnout. Far lower than the 2016 presidential election of 81 percent. A far cry from the 67 percent last midterm election in 2018. In fact, it's a safe bet that if you tried to guess the percentage, you would guess too high – 18 percent of county voters turned in a ballot. And that's not out of the ordinary.
Yes, these elections don't decide who will fill our seats in Congress or in the Oregon Legislature. We're not electing the next governor or even the choosing the people who will hold offices in city or county government. But don't the races that decide school, fire protection, and parks leadership deserve better than an 18 percent turnout?
Not only do these elections warrant a better voter turnout, they, like any election, would benefit from as many candidates as possible. Have a passion for schools or for how our local fire district protects its citizens? Why not run? Do you want a stake in the future of the skate or bike park, or the swimming pool or new bike and hiking trails? The Parks and Rec board has three openings this spring.
There is still plenty of time to file for a position on any of those boards and others. The deadline isn't until March 21. And people have even more time (until April 30) to make sure they are registered to vote in the special district election.
So get involved, whether that means turning in a ballot or filing for an office. These boards matter in this community and should be treated like they do.