Keep democracy alive in River Parishes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2011

As American efforts to spread democracy abroad, whether the intrusions are welcome or not, continue, at home many of the nation’s citizens still often struggle with what it truly means for a country to be called a democracy.

Arguments over the type of representation, the inherent flaws of a two-party system and the Electoral College and the limits of freedom wax and wane with the times, but the underlying elements that allow a democracy to flourish remain constant.

And foremost among these elements is the right to vote.

Without the right to vote, the words of the Bill of Rights would have as little true meaning as any set of laws drawn up by any random dictator. But American citizens over the age of 18 do have the right to vote and thereby inject meaning into words.

Residents of the River Parishes will once again be free to exercise their right to vote today.

In St. John the Baptist Parish, voters who live in Division A, which covers the entire west bank of the parish as well as Garyville, Reserve and the western portion of LaPlace, will choose someone to fill the at-large council seat that was vacated by Richard “Dale” Wolfe when he was named Housing Authority executive director last year. In that race, Lucien Gauff III of LaPlace will face off against Donnie Roybiskie of Edgard.

Meanwhile, residents of neighboring St. James Parish will have the chance to vote on a set of millage renewals that partially fund the salaries for school system employees and maintenance for public school facilities.

Local elections, especially those in April that have few items on the ballot, draw notoriously

few voters, but these are exactly the types of elections in which the opposite should be true. Those who claim their vote does not matter need only look to some recent local elections that have been decided by just a couple hundred votes or less. Also, the partisan politics that have left a bitter taste in the mouths

of many American voters are all but non-existent at the local level.

So leave the excuses at the door and get out and vote today. The future of your community really is in your hands.