Pay attention to local races when youíre in the voting booth

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Election fever has caught on around the nation, around the state and right here in Putnam County.

Itís not hard to see why.

With a presidential election seemingly unprecedented in its divisiveness, people are choosing sides and finding someone to vote for ó or against.

Itís much the same at the state level. A vacancy at both governor and U.S. senator have the campaigns flooding the airwaves, informing all of us what makes one candidate the better choice or what makes the other so awful.

Lost in all the noise, perhaps, is that we have some important, contested races right here in Putnam County.

Longtime Congressman Tip OíNeill is credited with popularizing the common piece of wisdom ďAll politics is local.Ē

We could do worse than listening to a man who served for 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The truth is that as important as what goes on in Washington may be ó and itís really important ó your county commissioner or state representative is likely to have way more impact on your daily life than your president.

Worried about school funding or farming regulations in the state? Look no further than the race for District 44 state representative.

Republican incumbent Jim Baird is seeking a fourth term in the House. During his six years as representative, Baird has brought his prior expertise in agriculture and as a veteran to bear in a number of pieces of legislation that have served farmers and veterans.

Baird currently serves on the Ways and Means, Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Statutory Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation standing committees, and the Agriculture and Natural Resources 2016 Interim Study Committee. He has also served on the Environmental Affairs and the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety committees.

Challenging him is Democrat Kim Fidler, a veteran educator who, like Baird, is a lifelong resident of West Central Indiana.

Fidler lists her priorities in representing the district as preserving public education for students and teachers, preserving the civil rights of all citizens in District 44 and representing the best interests of citizens, not a political party.

Having worked in 35 school corporations over the last 26 years first as a teacher and then for the Indiana State Teachers Association, Fidler has a particular concern for the schools in the district and around the state.

Concerned about the condition of our county roads or perhaps the general leadership of Putnam County? Then pay special attention to the race for District 3 county commissioner.

On one side is longtime Putnam County Commissioner Don Walton. He brings decades of experience as a county leader, serving as a commissioner for 32 years as well as four as a Putnam County councilman.

His challenger has no shortage of community and county leadership either. Democrat Nancy Wells spent 20 years on the South Putnam School Board as well as serving on the Putnam County Plan Commission, even spending time as president of that board.

The final county-wide contested race pits incumbent Coroner Dave Brown (R) against Democrat challenger Wally Steele.

And none of this takes into account some important races for school board positions.

The choice is yours, Putnam County. Most of you have probably already made your choice for president and perhaps even governor, senator or congressman.

But for many of us, the local races remain undecided. These are more than just soundbites and pulling the lever for elephant or the donkey. These are people right here in our community.

Take seriously the responsibility of choosing your local leaders.

Your vote has a greater effect in these races. In turn, their choices in office have a greater effect on you.