Next week, many of us will head to the polls and exercise our right to vote. I always find Election Day to be exciting, whether it’s a presidential election, state offices, city council or school board. This year though, Election Day seems bittersweet. The idea we get to choose who leads our government is amazing and by exercising our right to vote, I believe we honor the lives of the men and women who have defended and died for our republic. Taking time to reflect on their courage and sacrifice, gives me tremendous pride in our country and the electoral process.
On the other hand, for months now we have all been inundated with mail, radio and t.v. commercials, social media posts, most of which seem to be attacking the opposition rather than promoting the ideas or accomplishments of a candidate.
While reading and listening to those ads, I find myself wondering why anyone would step forward to seek public office. They know they are subjecting themselves to baseless attacks, lies and constant scrutiny, yet they choose to file for office anyway. The only explanation I can offer is that their desire to serve, to try to make their city, county, state or country, safer and better drives their decision and that sense of civic duty far outweighs any personal sacrifice. I’m grateful for those who are willing to come forward as candidates, even those I don’t agree with. By throwing their names in the hat, they give all voters a choice.
It’s unfortunate that most candidates spend their time and money tearing down their opponent, as opposed to showcasing their own accomplishments and goals for the future. A lot of times, especially on a local level, candidates are well known and respected members of their communities and generally share the same circle of friends and acquaintances. This election cycle is no different. It’s been encouraging to see and hear civil discussion from residents about why they support the vision and policies of a particular candidate over another, recognizing that the other candidate is not an evil person, but someone who has a vision they simply don’t agree with. On the other hand, it’s discouraging and unfortunate to see long time friendships weaken or deteriorate over who someone supports.
Regardless of who is elected to local or national office next week, I hope we can all agree that this is an amazing county, region and country! We share more core values than we disagree on. Even after the votes are tallied, we will have a choice to make. We can be angry our candidate lost, be boastful and arrogant our candidate won, or we can choose to not allow political differences to drive a wedge between us and our neighbors.
We can choose to find common ground with one another and support candidates, even if we didn’t vote for them, when they work on projects we agree will be beneficial to us all. We can choose to remain a strong community, coming together to do what is best for our families, friends and neighbors, regardless of political affiliation.
I have seen the people of this community come together, despite differences before. At the end of the day we are neighbors, friends, and we take care of each other. That’s what we do and I’m confident that’s what will continue to happen after this election.
Regardless of how you vote, I hope you will all exercise that right next Tuesday!
David M. Groves
Sheriff, Cherokee County