Editorial: Local votes really matter

Posted 10/19/18

Most people have spent a portion of their lives complaining about politicians and politics for the past two years. The frustration and anger are palpable, affecting people in ugly and unseen ways …

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Editorial: Local votes really matter


Most people have spent a portion of their lives complaining about politicians and politics for the past two years. The frustration and anger are palpable, affecting people in ugly and unseen ways — ways that threaten to destroy some of the founding principles of this nation, in our opinion, like civic and civil debate, openness and respect for others.

Yet the turmoil since 2016 has triggered more than just outrage. It has motivated good people to become active and seek public office. This new wave of candidates, of civic volunteers, is good for our community and good for our country.

Consider the ballot awaiting Bristol voters.

Most General Assembly seats are contested, some with formidable candidates.

Eleven people are running for Bristol Town Council, and only three of them are incumbents. The next council is certain to be different.

There’s a hotly contested race for Bristol Town Clerk, for the first time in memory.
And no fewer than nine people are hoping to represent Bristol residents on the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee, with only three seats available. This race is particularly fascinating, as the backgrounds and agendas of the nine candidates are so divergent.

Three incumbents, who have all been there for more than a decade, boast of good things accomplished and good things underway. A few candidates see major problems in the district and promise to make changes, including financial oversight. Some are active parents and volunteers, who see great things happening and want to continue making investments in a district on the rise.

Many people already know who they are voting for. They vote for “D” or “R,” or their neighbor, the person who sits near them in church, or their Facebook “friend” who they’ve been following for weeks. They are unlikely to be swayed by anything they see, hear, read or discover in the next three weeks.

However, many more are undecided, and they owe it to themselves and their community to make an informed decision. How well do you know these candidates? How well do they represent what you believe in? Do you trust them to represent you for two or four years?

There are two good chances to help answer some of those questions. A school committee candidates forum was Thursday at Colt School. A forum for all other races is Oct. 30 at the Bristol Statehouse.

For two years, people have screamed at the headlines out of Washington, D.C., even though the vast majority of issues have not and will not affect their daily lives in any way. The people you elect locally on Nov. 6 will affect your lives. They will affect your property taxes, your roads, your neighborhoods, your school curriculum and your state services.

These people should matter to you than anyone you see on a national platform.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.