To the point week of 11-1-07

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WELL, HERE WE STAND, Vevay and Patriot are now just a few days away from Election Day, 2007, and if the talk around the two towns is to be believed, there are some pretty close races developing.

Although those tight races will probably cause candidates some sleepless nights and a certain amount of anxiety; close races in the week leading up to Election Day means that everyone’s vote really will count – and because of that everyone should take the time to vote.

There’s really no reason not to vote. The polls are open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., so you can vote either before or after you go to work.

Can’t get to the polls during those hours? County clerk Ginger Peters and her staff are conducting absentee voting in their office in the courthouse from now until noon on Saturday, so you can set aside your yard work for a bit and run down to the clerk’s office and vote.

There are people who look at a presidential election or some other national election and think, “my vote can’t possibly matter on such a large scale”; but when you’re talking about local elections in a small community, each vote gets bigger and bigger.

Switzerland County has been the scene of some close elections over the years. In a small county like this, if you think you’re vote won’t make any difference, you are sadly mistaken.

There’s a lot going on in both Patriot and Vevay these days. With the riverboat has come an increasing revenue stream. Whoever wins elections next Tuesday will be entrusted with a large amount of town money – money that has to be balanced between short term projects and long range planning.

The problem is that no matter how much riverboat revenues Vevay and Patriot receive, we simply cannot allow ourselves and our elected officials to have a “kid in a candy store” mentality.

With funds on hand, all sorts of projects and groups come forward at nearly every meeting to ask for some funding to do some sort of project. Is it important? Yes. Is it something that a town council should take time dealing with? That depends on the short and long range goals that the board has set.

It may be a good project, but if it doesn’t “fit” into the town’s plan, then funding it gets the council off track and out of focus.

Town officials must prioritize what projects should get financial help immediately and which ones need to wait.

In many ways, back before the riverboat revenues came along, it was easier for a town council to just shake their heads and say, “You’ve got a good project, but we just don’t have the money to fund it.”

Now, those decisions must come with justification as to why it’s not being funded – and that can create some hard feelings.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you what’s going to happen next Tuesday. What I can tell you is that if you decide that voting isn’t worth your time on Election Day, then don’t bother to express your outrage when whomever is elected helps to point your community in a direction that you’d rather not go.

Vote next Tuesday.