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Get out and Vote!

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Next Tuesday is the big day! It's the day that we get to do more than just gripe about the government. It's the day we get to do something about it. Nov. 8 is election day.

    Last month the people of the little North African country of Tunisia got to exercise a basic human right that Americans have had for more than two centuries. That country had its first free and fair election in its history and that day didn't come easy. They had to run a dictator out of the country earlier this year and some Tunisians died in the effort.
    It didn't come easy here, either, although the sacrifices that established and preserved our republic were made long ago. Americans froze at Valley Forge in the war that secured our independence. Here in Bedford, bronze plaques at the National D-Day Memorial are inscribed with the names of men who were killed on June 6, 1944, to preserve our republic from an existential threat. A number of those names were local men who went off to war and never came home.
    Something else, besides young men willing to wade through cold water under withering enemy fire, is necessary to keep our republic alive. It takes people willing to run for elective office and it takes people who are willing to go to the polls and vote.
    We have people who have thrown their hats in the ring. There are several contested races on the ballot this year.
    Don't think this election is not important because it's not a presidential election year. This election is very important because you will be choosing the people who will make the decisions that directly affect you where you live.
    The composition of the Bedford County School Board hangs in balance. Two school board members, Joy Wright and Shirley McCabe, chose not to run this year. Two other incumbents are being challenged. District 7 school board member Debbie Hoback faces Kevin Willis and District 5 school board member Julie Bennington is being challenged by Ricky Wilkerson.
    Even if you don't have children in Bedford County's schools, you still pay taxes to pay for them. If you like the way the schools are being run, then turn out and vote for the incumbents. If you don't like what's going on, then this election gives you the opportunity to do something about it. This election could end up replacing half of the current school board if the challengers win.
    District 7 Supervisor Gary Lowry chose not to run for reelection this year and two people, Tammy Parker and Kyle Williams are vying to fill that seat. Two other supervisors are facing challengers. District 1 Supervisor Dale Wheeler is being opposed by Bill Thomasson and District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard is being opposed by Martin Leamy.
    The county's supervisors make major decisions that affect you. They decide how much you are going to have to pay in property taxes and decide how that money will be spent. They also make decisions that affect how you can use your land because they are responsible for the county's zoning ordinance and have the final say on rezoning and special use permit requests.
    Of course, the supervisors operate within the constraints of state law, but the General Assembly writes state law. There are three contested state elections on the ballot. Senator Steve Newman is being challenged by Robert Short while voters in other parts of the county will be able to choose between Brandon Bell and Ralph Smith. Delegate Lacey Putney is being challenged by Jerry Johnson and Lew Medlin. The House of Delegates election is especially important because Putney chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
    So, get out and vote this coming Tuesday. Your vote does indeed count and voting in a fair and free election is a right that's denied to people in most of the world. Shame on you if you don't exercise it!