At a recent party, I asked two educated adults who represents them in Congress. “I don’t know,” the young couple responded in unison.
I felt like a guest who was on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” several years ago. The guest asked the audience to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.” They struggled with it. Then the guest asked the audience to sing “The Brady Bunch” theme song. They knew every word. Carson was shocked. That episode of “The Tonight Show” proved how apathetic the country had become in the early 1980s.
Fast forward to today’s election season. Now I know that most people are aware of the two main contenders running for the White House. But many folks are like the young couple I met at the party when it comes to local officials. What we all need to realize is that it’s important to know the politicians who could affect us most. That would include our Congressmen, state and local representatives. This Tuesday, we have a runoff for the chairperson position on the County Commission.
The job of county chairperson is more important than ever. That person has a lot to do with our social, economic and environmental well-being. There is no doubt that the contenders —- incumbent Chairman Charles Bannister and District 1 Commissioner Lorraine Green —- are qualified, experienced members of the commission. But if you’re voting in this runoff, ask yourself, “Will either of these candidates serve in the interest of the people?” Will either Bannister or Green find ways to expand public transportation, relieve traffic, reduce crime, curb immigration problems and beautify the county while keeping taxes low and attracting business and tourists? I wish both candidates and their Democratic challenger —- Vincent Passariello —- good luck when either of them assumes the new position. It not only sounds like a tough job, but a serious balancing act.
On Tuesday, look beyond the plethora of yard signs and digital billboards and elect someone who cares about your needs.
I’m interested in a couple of issues.
> Cycling. With gas prices up, more cyclists are hitting the roads. I’m convinced that this county needs to accommodate cyclists like myself by building more connecting paths and sidewalks. I hope that the next County Commission chairperson will look into expanding cycling and pedestrian opportunities throughout the county.
> Rail in Gwinnett. Much has been said about a proposal to expand rail service into our county. Many AJC readers have written in opposition to expanding rail. A lot of people have said they are against it because they wouldn’t use it.
What they don’t realize is that an expanded rail system would be a win-win for them. With rail in Gwinnett, more commuters would ride trains rather than drive on the roads. A consumption-based tax system where funds could be earmarked for a Gwinnett rail system would create jobs and a cleaner environment and attract tourists.
Whether it’s MARTA or a separate Gwinnett system, this county needs to build a massive rail network.
There is much at stake in this runoff and general election. If you want a better quality of life, get to know your local candidates and get to the polls.