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Join Meck’s political elite: Vote in CMS board race

Fewer than 20 percent of registered voters control what happens in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Fewer than 20 percent of registered voters control what happens in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Want to join the political elite in Mecklenburg County without having to make big donations or gather in smoke-filled rooms?

Just vote in this year’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board election.

Turnout in off-year elections is usually less than 20 percent. And some folks who vote in the partisan city races don’t bother with the nonpartisan school board slate. In 2013, just under 14 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the district races.

So if you vote, it’s like you’re the voice for half a dozen of your neighbors.

If you don’t, you’re letting someone else settle the political, philosophical and geographic balance of power as the board moves toward a superintendent search.

You’re shrugging off a chance to choose the people who will decide how to balance opportunity, community, diversity and cost as they make student assignment decisions that will affect every neighborhood in Mecklenburg County.

And you’re passing up the opportunity to weigh in on officials who oversee a public budget of $1.4 billion.

This year, nine people are seeking the three at-large seats. They represent a wide range of views and backgrounds, so if you don’t have strong preferences you’re probably not paying attention.

I think the Observer has put together its best online election guide yet at www.charlotteobserver.com/election. You can find staff write-ups and candidates’ unedited responses to questions, with links to campaign websites and other ways to get in touch with them.

Early voting starts Thursday at Central Piedmont Community College facilities services, 1325 E. Seventh St., and expands to 17 sites on Saturday (get details here). Election day is Nov. 3.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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