March 27, 2014
Pickens County has an opportunity on April 1 for change when voters decide who will fill the empty seat on the Pickens County School Board. The question is, what will the voter turnout reflect?
The embattled board has staved off criticisms, petitions, and citizens unsure of its direction, striving to put the fears of a lack of re-accreditation for the district at ease. The community has been strongly involved, expressing its own concerns about the state of affairs. Now it’s gut check time for all of those voices.
On April 1 there are only three possible outcomes: a swing to the left, a swing to the right or no change at all. No matter who is elected though, for this particular issue, it’s the community that will be under the microscope.
Americans are notorious for their appearance of interest in the operation of their government, but traditionally that involvement ends with rhetoric and posturing. Voter turnouts, especially those not involving a presidential race, are lackluster at best and downright anemic at worst. There is a real danger of that being the outcome here.
To affect change one has to become involved. In politics the least amount of involvement required is the casting of a ballot. There has been an outcry for change for some time where this particular arm of local government is concerned and while screaming to the heavens from the bully pulpit may cause others to become involved, it doesn’t ensure any difference from the status quo, of which Pickens County seems to have had enough.
April 1 won’t be a referendum on the conduct of our local school board and the community’s position on a need for change, as much as a referendum on the people of Pickens County.
Should there be a strong voter turnout, a stronger message will be sent than any petition or strongly worded letter ever could. It will mean the eyes of the voters are pointed in the right direction. But if there is low voter turnout, the lesson will be this: No matter how loud or angry the locals get, if you wait long enough, they won’t show.
Now is the time to begin to affect change, if change is what you’re after, with your ballot. The election may be for one seat on the school board, but the message will be about the voter.