Vote today: Show you care about schools

Dave Gribble of rural Cedar Rapids votes in the 2013 school board election at the Education Leadership and Support Center. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Dave Gribble of rural Cedar Rapids votes in the 2013 school board election at the Education Leadership and Support Center. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Your children, grandchildren, young neighbors and friends have been back to school for a couple of weeks now.

Today, it’s your turn to go back to school. Or to your neighborhood church, or recreation center, or county auditor’s office — wherever your polling place for today’s school board election.

Because the children in your life and your community are counting on you to vote. They can’t, being underage, but they’ll have to live with the decisions made and direction set by the people you elect.

Need another reason to vote? Our larger school districts are among the biggest employers and taxing entities in our area. The Iowa City school board’s 2015-16 budget is $223 million. In the Cedar Rapids school district, it’s closer to $311 million. Other districts’ budgets, while smaller, are by no means insignificant.

In some races, such as Iowa City Schools — where five of seven seats are on the ballot and no incumbents are in the running — the urgency of voting is clear. But there are competitive school races being decided today in nearly all school districts in Linn and Jonson counties.

We have long hammered on the importance of school boards, and how shameful voter turnout has been. A recent Gazette investigation found that fewer than half of those who work for school districts in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids even bothered to vote during the last time around.

Perhaps, like Iowa City school board candidate Todd Fanning told Gazette reporters about his failure to vote in 2013, they were too busy. “I didn’t register to vote because I simply did not know any of the issues and was quite busy with my job and settling into a new home,” said Fanning, who became a registered voter in Johnson County earlier this summer.

Perhaps they simply forgot.

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But even if you haven’t done a lick of homework, it’s not too late to study up and vote. We’ve been running candidate columns, grids and our own endorsements for weeks now. You can find it all online at www.thegazette.com

Don’t know where your polling place is? Your county auditor’s office will be glad to help you.

And if you requested an absentee ballot and haven’t yet returned it, simply bring it with you to the polls.

• Comments: (319) 398-8469; editorial@thegazette.com

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