I often say to them — “Shame on you, it’s your civic responsibly to know.” But it’s not just my friends who don’t know about the election next Tuesday, it’s most of Cherokee County that doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. I would say to them the same thing I say to my friends — “Shame on you — be a responsible citizen — get involved in self-government and vote.”
The voter turnout in the July primary election approached 40 percent — few expect this election to reach 4 percent. But how does one keep abreast of the local community? You read the county paper, either hard copy or online.
Yes, the Cherokee Tribune has indeed kept its readers abreast of the ever-changing political scene here in Cherokee County, and it continues to do so.
But the resignation of Sen. Chip Rogers caught the county by surprise, especially after Rogers had just won perhaps his most bitterly fought political race of his career, a race that pitted his south Cherokee base against the north Cherokee base, a race that brought out all the elements of bitterly fought political races. And Rogers won by a rather substantial margin, which not only surprised me but many other voters as well, given the bitterness of that race.
The focus of that bitterly contested race was over Roger’s strong support of both the charter school issue and the recent school board districts redistricting, issues that will carry over into this special election to elect his replacement, Brandon Beach or Sean Jerguson, with the same political entities involved — the north versus south Cherokee political entities competing for political turf.
But there was another element, an often overlooked element that was involved in that race that some believe gave Rogers the edge, that element was the home county boy versus the outsider.
Some believe this issue will again play a role in this special election. If Beach were to win this election the county would have three state senators from outside Cherokee and it would give Fulton County one more senator.
If Jerguson were to win the race the county would still have one home county senator. Others have expressed surprise that Beach is being so strongly supported by those who publically advocate home-county rule.
But for me, the most disturbing element of this race will not be about who wins these two races, but about the apathy of the voters if indeed the projected vote of less than 4 percent proves to be true.
This special election is as important as was the Nov. 8 election in which a large percentage of the American people chose to ignore their civic responsibility and didn’t participate in the election of the president of the their country — the United States of America, a choice I hope they do not live to regret.
Likewise here in Cherokee if registered voters fail to turn out and exercise their constitutional responsibility to vote in this special election, no matter how insignificant or inconvenient it may seem to them, then they should not complain when the county’s state legislative body creates laws that offend them, or puts them at odds with their local and state government.
Local government begins in the home. The next level is the city and county followed by the state government. And this is what the Founding Fathers intended it to be, most government at the county and state level.
The role of the federal government was specifically limited by the Constitution. Perhaps it’s ironic, but many who advocate home rule, as in county rule, are often the first to seek federal grants and agreeing to the attached binding chains, stipulations that nearly always erode local home rule.
My Dec. 27 column was on choices and consequences.
We here in Cherokee again have a choice to make — a choice of who will represent the county in the state Legislature — a state senator and a member of the state House of Representatives.
Our vote, I suppose, will depend on what we believe most in, local county representation or outside representation. This election provides a clear choice.
Choose well, be responsible, vote — then be willing to live with the people’s choices.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.