Dorchester Chamber of Commerce: Voting Matters

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Bill Christopher, Dorchester Chamber of Commerce

We are fresh off of the 2016 Maryland Primary Elections and we are now heading into local elections. Your vote in each Election process is important and a single vote does matter. Many local and state elections have been decided by fewer than 100 votes (some fewer than 10) in recent elections.

Gaining knowledge as you prepare to vote is important. Your local elected officials have a great deal of control over policies and practices that affect your day to day life, likely as much if not more than Federally-elected officials. Local tax rates, building codes, road maintenance, emergency services, and education are just a few of the items that fall under the control of local government. Locally-elected officials are called upon to become educated on the issues at hand. They must determine the impact, positive or negative, on the community and merge that knowledge with the desires of their constituents. With this combined information they must decide to take (or not to take) action that is in the best interest of the Community they represent. Be that Community a Town, City, County, District or State.

Given the level of responsibly resting on the shoulders of these elected officials it is our duty to do as much as we can to insure we vote and vote with knowledge. All the rhetoric that is pushed out by the candidates and the press make this seem to be a daunting or impossible task. However, it is our duty as citizens to do the best we can to filter through the information that is provided to make the best possible choice.

The first task is to make a list of things that you believe are important to you and your community and determine your position on those items. Think about what you would do about the issue if you were an elected official. This list does not need to be exhaustive or even written down – you just need to do the exercise so you have something to evaluate the candidates against.

Armed with your list, there are many sources to get information today: local newspapers and local radio provide the most coverage, you can search social media for posts from the candidates (some they wanted you to see and potentially some they may not have wanted you to see), various community based organizations will use the Web and social media to provide information on the candidates, and most importantly use your own people network. The more local the election more likely it is you know someone that knows the candidate.  Ask questions of people you trust and respect to learn as much as you can about the candidates.

For the upcoming City of Cambridge Elections, the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce will be asking each of the candidates to provide responses to a set of questions that we feel provide insight on how each candidate will approach issues that affect the Business Community. We will be posting these responses on our Website, Facebook page and providing them to the local press. We encourage each of you to use these responses as a resource as you evaluate who you will vote for to represent your interest.

The City of Cambridge Primary Elections will be held on June 14, and the General Elections will be held on July 12.

I will close out this piece with the following quote:
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” George Jean Nathan

Editor’s note: Mr. Christopher is the executive director of the Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. His column appears on the first Wednesday of every month in this publication.

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