Stakes in upcoming election spark high interest
Today, The Mountaineer begins candidate profiles for those vying for local and regional elected offices.
Contested races include everything from the Maggie Valley Sanitary District to the 11th District U.S. Congressional seat.
Even though profiles are just starting — which will give readers time to consider the information before one-stop absentee voting begins on Oct. 18 — it seems election issues have not been far from the minds of many this go-around.
Part of the heightened interest is undoubtedly associated with the U.S. Presidential election, which typically draws a larger voter turnout than any other election.
Another reason the stakes seem higher during this election is the sharp contrast in the ideas being put forth to help move the state and nation forward.
At the state level, education and jobs are top priorities for both parties, but the proposed actions to address them are very different. On the Republican side, candidates propose the course started during the last legislative session which opts for reform and school choice as opposed to returning public schools to former funding levels.
Regarding jobs, Democrats point to education, especially early childhood education, and job training as the way to attracting 21st century jobs while Republicans support tax cuts and overhauling government regulations to let private enterprise lead the way.
Republicans stumping in Haywood County have often cited support for the recently passed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, gun ownership and traditional family values. Democrats talk about quality of life issues as they impact individuals from the very young to the very old.
The differences are just as diverse at the Congressional level where government spending and the course for the future dominate the discussions.
Local races often come down to name recognition, experience and ideas that catch on with voters.
There is much at stake as the country and state face a crossroads and locally elected leaders step up to deal with decisions made up the ladder. Voting will begin in less than two weeks and culminate on Nov. 6.
Participating in the upcoming election and doing so in an informed way is vital this election cycle.