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Editorials

Who says your vote doesn't matter?

Election season is over for now. Well, as far as the state and national races are concerned. But here in Polk County, we are all still on the edge of our seats, wondering how many of the roughly 150 voters whose ballots were challenged will get it fixed by Tuesday’s deadline.

With just two votes separating incumbent Craig Pope from challenger Danny Jaffer for Position 2 on the Polk County Board of Commissioners — 12,526 to 12,524 — we truly have learned that every vote really does count.

There is a feeling sometimes out here in rural Polk County that Portland and Eugene rule the elections, and that your vote doesn’t really matter. Well, that may be partially true for statewide and federal elections.

Take Measure 91 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for example. Polk County voted “no,” whereas statewide the measure passed. Had Polk County voters had their way, Oregon would have a different governor, too.

But in local elections, let there be no doubt that your vote does matter. And local government affects your daily life more than state or federal government does in many cases.

Sheriff’s deputies on 10-hour patrols? County decision. Sewer rates increasing by 10 percent? City decision.

Streets, water, wastewater, public safety, building codes and fees — these are all managed at a local level, and the people elected as county commissioner or city councilor are the ones who represent you regarding these issues.

Now we have two different men with different philosophies neck and neck for the Position 2 commissioner seat.

County Clerk Val Unger said she cannot remember a time since she started in 1989 that a big race like this has been this close. The battle between Pope and Jaffer has truly split the county right down the middle.

Still, nearly 30 percent of the county’s eligible voters didn’t vote in the Nov. 4 general election. We hope it wasn’t because you forgot to mail your ballot in. We hope you’ll remember this election next time and make your voices heard. We know we have two commissioner candidates who hope every one of their supporters voted.

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