From Kristen Smith

webKristenSmith108bluegradBgWant to spend long hours on Monday evenings discussing and debating meaty issues?
Or Tuesday evenings talking and testing theories?

Easy, just convince a few thousand folks to vote for you for Chapel Hill Town Council or Carrboro Board of Aldermen! Okay, few of us roll with a crew that deep, so it’s not as easy as it sounds — BUT it does highlight the disappointing voter turnout for municipal elections (just 17% for all Orange County in 2011).

With the threat of government shutdown and rancor in Raleigh, the local elections may have crept up on you while you were sorting out the impact of Obamacare or tax reform. But there are many reasons why you should find out who are these candidates behind the signs on 15-501…

Don’t think the folks at either Town Hall have an impact on your life? Both these elected bodies make decisions whose impact show up in your commute, your day at the park, and your property tax bill. These candidates have an opportunity to articulate their vision for the future – and are charged with seeing that vision implemented. Don’t let the debates of either capital overshadow the debates that influence the kind of community in which we live.

And those debates? Yes, they happen late on Monday and Tuesday nights, but they also happen in line at the grocery store. Candidates for Congress probably won’t be meeting you at the poll when you cast your vote, but you can call, email, and talk in person with all of these local candidates.

[Quick caveat about these conversations: make sure you treat these candidates and current electeds with understanding – it takes some guts for throwing their hat in the ring and they might not be able to recall the exact ordinance while you’re grilling him in the checkout line].

Just in case you don’t catch these candidates while you’re out buying local, come hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber and the Orange-Chatham Group of the Sierra Club will be co-hosting two candidate forums – 7 pm Wednesday at Carrboro Town Hall to hear from Aldermen candidates and 7 pm Thursday at the Library to hear from Council candidates. Can’t make it this week? Tune to the People’s Channel where the forums will be broadcast.

Attending a forum is one way to be an informed voter. And you’re on the right track listening to local media. Let’s reverse the expected turnout trend. Make your voice heard by casting a vote in this year’s municipal elections.