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Editorial: Not always dramatic, but we can participate

Few April 1 spring elections have a showdown as dramatic as the mayoral race in River Falls between current first-term mayor Dan Toland and his predecessor, the man Toland beat two years ago, Don “DR” Richards.

These two well-known citizens exude passion, idealism, commitment to their community, and good-natured charm. Only one will win the election and go on to lead the city for the next two years as mayor, but both, by their presence as candidates, have generated interest and debate on topics that matter to River Falls.

But most of Tuesday’s don’t rise to that same level of interest. Many, like all four City Council races, are uncontested — meaning one person running for one position. In Kinnickinnic, an open town board seat has not one person running on the ballot.

For River Falls schools, two incumbents are hoping to be returned to their seats on the seven-member school board. Challenger Mark Nippoldt, however, has stepped forward as a candidate to offer his services to the school board. This week’s Journal profiles all three school board candidates.

Local elections almost always have much lower voter turnout then presidential, gubernatorial and congressional elections. Yet locally we are electing neighbors, friends and acquaintances to do governing that affects our daily lives – from strategies for educating our children and how our roads are maintained to the planning and upkeep of our parks and perks that may be needed to draw more businesses.

Voting, even in uncontested elections, is also a vote for the citizens who’ve decided to get involved in local civic affairs. These elected positions, with minimal pay, are often filled by people who already have regular jobs. Their time is valuable — by running for public office, candidates are giving of their spare time on behalf of their communities.

That said, the least we can do is set aside five minutes of our time on Tuesday to vote in the spring elections.