OK, OK. We understand; not everyone wants to run for town office, but we’d like to make the case for why you should at least vote in the local election this fall. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we started The Gardiner Gazette—we became aware that many people in town reserve their trips to the polls for elections at the state and national level, and the Gazette seemed like a good way to work on changing that.
3,094 Gardiner residents voted in the 2008 Presidential Election. In 2009, 1,668 voted in the local election, and in 2010, 2,223 of us voted in the non-presidential state and national election. As the numbers show, 1,426 more people turned out to elect the president of the United States than turned out to elect our current Town Board.
Why? We can only hypothesize. People may think what happens on the national level will have more impact on their day-to-day lives. They may be better informed about what’s happening in the larger world than in their own town. And yes, of course, Obama had rock star status, but presidential candidates always have the resources to saturated us with news about them.
In 2009, a Town Board seat was decided by 33 votes—it was a lackluster year with low voter turnout. In comparison, the 2003 local election had 394 more voters (at a time that the town had less population), and the election was decided by 334 votes. That election broke state records for voter turn-out; there were hot local issues on the table, and residents were more informed and more involved. Clearly, voters saw the direct connection between their vote and their lives.
Here at The Gazette, we see the connection every year, and our mission has been to keep that connection alive by keeping Gardiner informed. We’ve tried to make the case for why you should care about what happens in your backyard. Decisions made locally affect our quality of life, the types of businesses and jobs and houses available, and the types of recreational activities we can enjoy locally. Have we made the case? If you’re not registered, now is the time. All you need is a voter registration form. Go to: www.co.ulster.ny.us/elections/registration.htm or call the Board of Elections at 845 334-5470.
And a note to parents: has your son or daughter turned 18? Please make an attempt to get them to register!