It is your business—take time to vote

Throughout the High Plains and Midwest regions, farmers and ranchers will soon head to the polls, or take advantage of advance voting, to cast their ballots for candidates they believe will best serve them.

For races in the Senate, House, governors, state legislatures and local office-holders, an informed vote can tilt the scales toward people who understand the business of agriculture.

In some cases, elections may include casting a vote on a statewide initiative or local bond issue to finance a water drainage plan, a school renovation project or county jail that can impact your property taxes.

Each vote has a consequence. Even if you live in a district where your senator or House member does not serve on an agriculture committee, he or she is likely to be on a committee that writes policy or provides oversight on the environment, water, regulatory, tax or other panels that are essential to your way of life.

Office-holders at most levels have an important power—which is not often talked about—and that is their involvement in appointing people to non-elected positions. Congress gives its blessing to federally appointed positions in government. Governors appoint task forces, advisory boards and cabinet positions. County commissioners appoint planning commissions and zoning boards. Their decisions set precedents in the court system.

All positions, whether federal, state or local, depend on fair-minded people who are willing to sort through matters on a case-by-case basis and render a decision. That’s why voting for people with integrity matters.

In all cases, even during this busy season in agriculture, take time to attend local forums and visit one-on-one with candidates or key people in his or her campaign. Be open minded yourself and be willing to listen to candidates with opposing views who may offer a viable solution to a problem.

Some voters will depend on guides and mailers advocated by special interest groups. Be wary. Some of the information can be factual but oftentimes is skewed to boast about one candidate while criticizing an opponent. Some of the information relies on murky or unsubstantiated statements. A well-informed voter seeks his or her information from credible outlets.

Voters need to realize each candidate is working hard to earn your vote and he or she is working long hours as campaigns wind down. It is admirable that candidates are willing to work long hours in hopes their voice can make a difference.

In most races there are compelling reasons to retain incumbents and welcome newcomers. It is important to ask incumbents to defend their record and ask why newcomers want to challenge that record. Sage advice is to avoid last-minute “gotcha” tactics because there is little time for an attacked candidate to respond to any allegations that rarely are corroborated by reliable reporting.

Negative advertising, while it can be informative, can make a voter more apathetic about even heading to the poll. Do not fall into that trap, be an optimistic voter and encourage your neighbor to vote.

The pulse is alive and well but democracy is a participation sport and too important for you to just sit on the sidelines.

Nov. 6 is crucial and your participation is welcome and necessary.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].