ROCK FALLS – The municipal election is now a little more than 2 weeks away.
Voters in Sterling, Rock Falls and neighboring towns will get the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for who should be their aldermen, mayor and other representatives.
If this year’s turnout is like other municipal elections, many people will not take advantage of this opportunity. But they should. Local representatives on city councils, for example, have the ability to create policies that directly impact the lives of residents in their communities.
Often, local races don’t have the appeal that a presidential race does. The messages aren’t as high profile; there won’t be expensive television commercials or huge campaign rallies. That doesn’t mean the races aren’t important.
Mayors and aldermen have the ability to increase a city’s tax levy. These officials can agree to pass policies that will support development or allow an entrepreneur to move forward with an idea for downtown.
These same leaders set the tone for communication with neighboring cities and determine what budgeting priorities should be.
With so many important decisions at stake, one would think voters would be hungry for the opportunity to determine who should serve.
In 2011, voter turnout in Whiteside County was 17.1 percent. It was better in Lee County, 25.6 percent.
If you’ve ever picked up the newspaper, seen a headline and wondered, “How did the city council or mayor allow that to happen?” then voting on April 9 should be a priority.
At Sauk Valley Media, we’re covering the key issues by asking candidates where they stand and what their priorities are. The idea is to give voters the information they need to make informed decisions.
There are also other opportunities for voters to hear from the candidates. Tonight, the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce will hold a candidate forum at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. Doors open at 6 and the forum begins at 6:30 p.m. It also will air live on Channel 5.
Armed with information and with the knowledge that elected officials can impact change in their communities, voters should feel empowered when casting their ballots.
Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.