Caldwell: Community can build off election-year energy

Published 12:06 pm Monday, October 29, 2018

Political signs line the yards and streets of Clark County. Words of support for local candidates fill the newspapers and the airwaves. Social media has become a constant forum for campaigning.

The November 2018 general election is certainly building toward a crescendo — yet we will likely have a turnout of less than 30 percent of registered voters. And those numbers might be optimistic.

This is heartbreaking. It appears activity doesn’t translate to action.

How do we solve this conundrum? I am not sure anyone knows, but it is a topic worthy of analysis by social scientists and cultural anthropologists.

Working off of a parallel concept, imagine if we could get all those voicing their support for political candidates to get involved in the community through volunteerism and other efforts after the election is over.

The results would be absolutely transformative for Clark County.

With all due respect to those seeking public offices, a veritable army of volunteers and engaged citizens could accomplish far more than any government entity or political subdivision, even when staffed by the best public servants.

So, that’s the monumental challenge our society faces. How do we translate the energy from campaign season, first, into actual voting and, second, into community engagement after Nov. 6?

Progress like this will only be achieved on a grassroots level but it can be led by our elected officials. If those seeking office spend as much time motivating their supporters after they are elected as they do before the votes are cast, we will see remarkable changes in our communities.

When you tick through the list of some of the biggest challenges our communities face, all can be significantly impacted by concerned citizens who are committed to making a positive impact.

Drug addiction. Education for our youth about the dangers of drugs, as well as rehabilitation and support for addicts can be done by everyday citizens. It starts with acknowledging this is a problem that affects us all and one that will require us all to be part of the solution.

Job creation. Although we need our local governments to provide resources and an enticing environment, real job creation and economic growth will always be driven by private investment. This starts with each of us making a commitment to support our local businesses and being the loudest cheerleaders.

Community pride. Volunteers have long been the driving force behind many of the most effective community beautification and cleanup efforts. Peer pressure also goes a long way when it comes to ensuring businesses and citizens keep their properties maintained and looking good.

Educational success. Quality schools are critical to the success of our communities and our students. We cannot rely on educators and administrators to shoulder the whole burden. Mentors and positive role models can be the difference between failure and success; we all have the capacity to rise to the occasion here.

These challenges transcend partisanship. They transcend demographics. They transcend all the petty things we allow to divide us.

As we enter the homestretch of the 2018 election season, it is encouraging to see so many vocal supporters actively engaged in the process. Now we just need to keep that momentum going after Nov. 6.

Do that and our citizens will be the real winners this year and for years to come.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.