Don’t buy the hype

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, November 15, 2014

The pundits would have us believe that this month’s election results were a bit of a fluke. Don’t believe it.

Gaining traction recently in the wake of the election that turned Democrats out of power in the U.S. Senate and increased Republicans’ hold on the House of Representatives is the theory that the results were a function of low voter turnout. Don’t buy that theory, either.

Democratic elections have always been a barometer calibrated by the voters who actually participated. That’s why the parties involved spend so much time and effort trying to get people to the polls. When it comes to elections, the opinions of disaffected — or even satisfied — citizens who choose not to vote literally do not count. The only opinions that count in an election are the ones held by those who pull the levers or push the buttons at the polling locations.

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This principle played itself out in grand form here in Suffolk on Election Day.

Proving that local politics is far more important to the average citizen than anything at the state or national level, Suffolk’s voter turnout beat both the state and national averages on Nov. 4. With important City Council and School Board seats in play, Suffolk residents took the opportunity to speak to the matters that affect them most directly, reshaping the two elected bodies that make the decisions that set the tone for their city and affect the education of their children.

As with the state and national elections, do not be tricked into thinking the results to have been meaningless.

If Suffolk’s citizens were satisfied with the status quo, voters would not have turned out three sitting members of City Council. The fact that they overwhelmingly voted to replace Charles Parr, Charles Brown and Jeffrey Gardy should not be lost on the remaining council members, nor on councilman Mike Duman, who ran unopposed.

This was not a temper tantrum thrown by an immature electorate. Suffolk’s election results were not a result of low turnout. And they certainly were not a fluke.

Instead, the results of the local elections in Suffolk reveal that folks have been paying attention to the issues, that there was a distinct difference between how the candidates in each race promised to approach those issues and that voters had a clear preference regarding those distinctions.

From the City Council’s relationship to the School Board to transparency within the city government, there were clear differences between how the sitting members of City Council have handled things and how the newly elected members have promised to do so.

The November 2014 elections may not have answered all the questions facing Suffolk, but they’ve left no doubt that the people of Suffolk are looking for a new approach from the government that affects them most. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, don’t buy it.