Our nation’s form of government is called a Constitutional Federal Republic which means we are governed by a supreme law of the land (Constitution) that all 50 states adhere to (federal). Lincoln defined the “Republic” in simple terms – government of the people, by the people, for the people.
We have long taken pride in our representative form of government, even if our actions don’t always reflect it.
Tomorrow, Golden Triangle voters have an opportunity to affirm our belief in representative government through municipal elections. In Columbus, voters will decide a hotly contested mayor’s race along with council seats in Ward 1, Ward 3 and Ward 4.
In Starkville, Ward 1, Ward 2, Ward 4 and Ward 5 alderman seats will be up for grabs.
In West Point, there is only one contested race, but it’s a historic one: No matter the outcome, West Point will have a Black mayor for the first time in the city’s 163-year history.
Caledonia will elect a new mayor and all five at-large aldermen positions, of which at least three will be new members.
While local elections have the most direct impact on voters when compared to state and national elections, the turnout is usually the smallest of the three. Turnouts are often in the 40 to 60 percent range.
When voters don’t exercise their rights at the poll, it’s fair to question how representative our local governments really are.
Without a city-wide candidate on the ballot in Starkville, Tuesday’s turnout will be predictably low since voters in three wards won’t have a contested race to decide. That accounts for 42 percent of the voters. That does not excuse voters in the other four wards, where votes can alter the direction of the entire city government.
But in the other cities, every person’s vote will be important.
In Columbus, where the mayor’s race is particularly contentious, there has been a lot of talk about overall turn-out and who turns out.
While some supporters of either candidate hope for a large or low turnout, depending on who they think that helps or hurts, we are not at all conflicted.
We hope that every registered voter in all our municipalities will fulfill their duties and vote because the greater the turn-out, the more representative our local governments will be.
If you, too, really believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people, you’ll prove it on Tuesday by casting your vote.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.