Terrorist attacks put new perspective on responsibility to vote

Posted: Friday, September 21, 2001

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, there's been more talk than usual about patriotism and national pride. We've been flying Old Glory and wearing red, white and blue in record numbers.

In less than two weeks, Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will be headed to the polls to vote on several important ballot issues and elect people to city councils, service area boards, the assembly and school board.

It will be interesting to see on Oct. 2 if our reawakened love for country translates into something as tangible as higher voter turnout during a local election.

The significance of the issues we will be voting on may pale in comparison to the tragic events of last week and the uncertainty of what happens next. The fact is, however, local elections represent the heart of our liberties. Not only do we get to choose who we want to represent us, but we get to decide the direction we want our communities to take. The terrorist attacks put into perspective what an awesome privilege the simple act of voting is.

This week, the Peninsula Clarion began giving voters information about candidates they may find useful before they head to the polls: Soldotna City Council candidates were featured Wednesday, Kenai City Council and mayoral candidates were featured Thursday, school board candidates are featured today and assembly candidates will be featured Sunday. Our campaign coverage will extend next week with interviews with the candidates and overviews of the races.

We hope readers will find the information useful in making decisions. We encourage you to contact candidates with any questions you may have about their position on any given issue. We ask you to ask yourself: If a candidate is inaccessible during the campaign season, will he or she be any more available if elected to office? If candidates are too busy to let their views be known, will they be too busy once elected?

Washington state voters went to the polls on Sept. 18. The day before that election the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran the following editorial. We think it bears repeating as Kenai Peninsula voters prepare for their Oct. 2 election:

To cast one's ballot in a free and open exercise of representative democracy hardly feels like a chore -- especially when Washington's Primary Election Day comes exactly one week after the horrific assaults on freedom in New York and Washington, D.C.

Those who thought they might begin to topple this icon of democracy with Tuesday's dastardly deeds need to be shown just how wrong they were. We recognize voting as a right, a privilege, an obligation. Tomorrow we should recognize it as a joy, and as an affirmative, unmistakable act of defiance.

There are precious few places on this planet where the consent of the governed is a prerequisite. ...

No gaggle of generals dictates who will serve in office.

No cabal of bearded clerics decides for us.

Neither the question of who votes nor who is allowed to run for office is predetermined by accident of class, race or caste.

We are not herded to the polling places by armed soldiers to ensure high but meaningless voter turnouts. ...

If ever the whole world were watching us in the United States, it's right now. The world is watching to see how we'll respond, where we'll strike militarily, diplomatically and economically. ...

By all means, say your prayers, wave your flags and light your candles. But to send friends and foes the boldest, clearest message of all -- Vote.

Well said. We hope voters will spend the next week preparing themselves so they can cast responsible, educated votes Oct. 2. It's the very least we can do to honor those thousands of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

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