Point of No Return – Presidential race is great, but so are local ones

Date Published: 
October 14, 2016

There’s a lot at stake in this presidential election.

For starters, there’s a swing seat open in the Supreme Court of the United States. Whoever wins the presidential election will (presumably) be afforded the opportunity to offer a nominee for that position and influence the way the highest court in the land leans for the next several years.


One must also consider how the next president’s administration will deal with domestic terrorism, economy, refugees, illegal immigration, healthcare, tax reform, a rising divide amongst races and various social issues. And that is just at home.

The next president will also have to deal with ISIS, North Korea, Putin, international relationships, coups, dependency on foreign fuels, a boiling pot of issues throughout Africa, property fights in the Gaza Strip and many more concerns that have not yet even popped up their heads.

And we haven’t even mentioned the dynamic between the White House and Capitol Hill. Will Hillary Clinton be able to convince House or Senate Republicans to vote along with her? Will Donald Trump be able to convince Democrats, or even Republicans?

It’s a big deal, for sure.

However, when it comes to the consistent status of our typical day-to-day lives as Americans, one could argue that local, county and state elections carry even more significance.

I’ve always felt that town council and other local elections don’t get nearly the attention nor scrutiny they truly deserve. These are the people who have a lot of control over the police coverage you might have around your home, if you can build a fence, or how tall you can build your dream home. Their decisions often impact your property taxes, the safety of your drinking water and whether or not your children have a sidewalk to navigate on their walks to school.

Those are very real decisions that you have a very real voice in deciding every election cycle. There is no electoral college to camouflage your vote, and you have access to these candidates that the vast majority of us do not have when deciding between candidates on the national stage.

Angry at Congress? Good luck getting an audience with them. Upset with a decision by the Bethany Beach Town Council? Get yourself on the next agenda or give someone a call. Your voice matters locally.

The same goes for Sussex County Council, particularly with the large amounts of people who live in unincorporated areas in our community. Many of our readers have George Cole or Rob Arlett as their county council representative, and both men have seen their children attend our local schools, play in our parks and swim at our beaches. They know what people in this area want because, well, they are people of this area and interact with their constituents on a daily basis.

The Sussex County Council has a lot of say in the way we live our lives here, and we have a lot of say in who sits on Sussex County Council. The same goes for the Indian River School District. We vote for who sits on that school board and makes significant decisions that impact our children’s present and future. Shouldn’t you want to learn about the candidates for those positions before an election at least as much as you want to know what Clinton or Trump are doing?

State Sen. Gerald Hocker is running against Perry Mitchell for his seat in the 20th Senate District. Hocker is a local business owner with long ties to the community, and is a prominent figure in the state’s Republican party. Mitchell is a retired political science teacher who previously sat on the Ocean View Town Council. If you have a concern with something the State is responsible for in this area, the winner of this election would be someone you could reach out to for help or guidance. Isn’t that pretty important?

The same goes for the race between Rich Collins and Brad Connor for Collins’ seat in the 41st Representative District. These are two very different people with very different ideas for the community.

This year’s elections will also see a race for the governor’s seat, lieutenant governor and various other state positions. These races all matter — maybe as much to us as individuals as the big one that’s grabbing all the headlines.

I’m as entertained, disgusted, enthralled and curious with the race for the White House as anybody. The president will be the very face of our nation for at least the next four years, and decisions that person makes could result in people starting or closing businesses, getting a college education, keeping a job or seeing our children go off to war in a far-off place.

It is critically important.

But it is also very important that we make informed, well-thought-out decisions regarding our more local elections. The Coastal Point will feature our Q&A responses with the candidates right before the elections, and several community groups are hosting forums for the candidates to get out their messages.

Study up on the candidates, introduce yourselves to them at public events and ask them your questions. These are the people who will be making real impacts on the very way we live our lives.