Editorial

In Aug. 2 election, all politics is local

July 29, 2016
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The national political convention love fests (though that’s a strong adjective for the GOP) now give way to slugfests and what promises to be exhausting pre-election months. But the U.S. presidential election is more than three months away, and what happens in readers’ backyards will be determined Aug. 2. So, too, will tax rates in many municipalities in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. Aug. 2 is very much a local Election Day.

The primary election sees multiple candidates from the same party queued for their shot at the general election. It is the only time party loyalists, in particular, see choices. In this heavily Republican area, the primary winners easily command the general election. One need only recall Justin Amash’s primary election win over erstwhile challenger Brian Ellis for the Michigan Fifth District congressional seat last year.

Term limits this year especially target the 115-seat Michigan House of Representatives, where Democrats aim to take leadership. The strength of Republican candidates nominated Aug. 2 will be key if the GOP is to remain in the speaker’s seat. State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, is among those term-limited. Five Republicans and one Democrat are vying for representation of her district encompassing the Lowell, Belding and Ionia region. It is one of the state’s most-watched campaigns. (Lyons, meanwhile, is running as a Republican for the Kent County clerk position being vacated by long-term incumbent Mary Hollinrake.)

Ballot proposals for tax renewals, new tax levies or property tax increases abound throughout Kent County as well as neighboring Ottawa and Muskegon counties. Ottawa County will, among other proposals, consider renewing the county parks and open space millage and restoring it to the level approved in 2006 (later reduced through the Headlee Amendment).

The most worrisome aspect of the Aug. 2 elections is that fewer than 20 percent of registered voters show up at the polls, and the turnout continues a downward spiral every year. Contrast that waning interest in voting on the most “local” Election Day with interest in the current choices for U.S. president and Michigan statewide leadership positions.

Look in the mirror if you’re not happy with the tax rate or “the choices.” Aug. 2 is an Election Day.

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