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Forget 2010! Focus on Tuesday’s elections

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POSTED October 31, 2009 2:22 a.m.
If you listen to the politicians and pundits in Washington, D.C., every move being made by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats and Republicans is all about the 2010 midterm elections.

And as usual, voters already are wondering what is going to happen, even though a single ballot won’t be cast for a year!

I read a story this week that stated that President Obama’s campaign team, Organizing for America, already is putting people in place and taking ideas for its game plan in 2012. In politics, this is called shrewd and prudent thinking.

Frankly, it’s nonsense.

A year ago at this time, there was tremendous excitement about the presidential election. Folks were geeked for the battle between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain. That’s always the case for a national election. But truth be told, our concerns should really be about what’s happening on the local and state levels.

On Tuesday, we will see important races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia and mayoral elections in Houston, Atlanta, New York and other places. Races for city council and state legislature seats and all kinds of other positions will be held, and we all should be focused on these races.
Let’s just be honest: The national races are the sexiest campaigns of them all. But when it comes to how your life will be impacted most, it’s what happens on the local level.

When it comes to raising fees and property, sales and income taxes, you’ll see more of that on the local and state levels than you will on the national level.

It’s nice to go back and forth in determining how many seats the Democrats may lose in the November 2010 elections, but who controls the state legislatures matters because we are coming up on the 2010 census, and with that, they’ll be looking at redistricting. And that will be in place for 10 years.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan can give 1,000 speeches about the need for quality schools, but local school boards are where the action is when it comes to educating our children.

We spend a lot of time talking about the U.S. Supreme Court, but the real battleground in our criminal justice system is in the state courts. If you’re concerned with individuals who may not be guilty spending time on death row, then pay attention to local judicial races. A lot of the screw-ups are happening on the state level rather than on the federal level.

The point is simple: We are affected most by what is done in the city council, commissioners court and sheriff’s office and by local and state judges. Yet down-ballot races are the most ignored. Just a few weeks ago, Memphis, Tenn., held a special election for mayor, and turnout was only 20 percent.

That’s it. Twenty lousy percent.

So if you’re gearing up for the 2010 midterm elections, put that on the back burner, and find out when the next local election is. If you don’t, you may miss your life being turned upside down because your eyes are on Washington, D.C., and not down the street.
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