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Well, the big day is finally here.
Today marks election day in Mountain Home, and as much as I love our school system, I am ready for elections to be over.
If anyone had asked me two years ago when I first moved my family to Mountain Home, if the defining issue that could split this community in half was fixing the area’s high school, I would have laughed.
But here we are, and I’m not laughing now.
This millage election has been a brutal one, with mud being slung left and right as both sides of the issue fight over undecided voters sitting in the middle. From a journalism standpoint, it’s been nearly impossible to write about the subject without making every side upset at the same time.
I either didn’t write enough, or not in the way that one side wanted. How could I write an article exposing the school board’s secret text group, especially when I support the millage increase? How could I write an article about one of the NO sides most vocal leaders’ past loose ties to Neo-Confederate hate groups, even after publicly defending smears against NO voters being alleged Klansman?
Easy. I go where the facts lead me and keep an open mind when talking to people on both sides of the issue.
From a personal standpoint, even the act of making a public statement on our social media page, something I rarely do, was enough to land me and my wife on the receiving end of an opinion piece from our competition.
At least I have a fun new nickname now.
Moving forward, I’m not sure how this community will come back together after this election. If the vote goes to the NO sides, YES voters are going to be devastated that their attempts to build a better school for their children failed. If the YES side wins, NO voters are going to be angry over a tax increase.
Hopefully, cooler heads can prevail, and Mountain Home can return to being the happy, sleepy town that my family has grown to love.
So, why am I writing this article? It’s not to attack anyone. It’s not even to try and sway people on how they should vote.
What I want most today is for people to get in the voting booth and cast their ballot. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to anonymous voices or aggressive Facebook groups. Listen to what your heart says.
If you want to help build a better high school for the kids here in town, cast your YES ballot. It doesn’t make you a communist or a liar. If you can’t handle a tax increase right now, cast that NO ballot. It’s OK. It doesn’t make you a bad or evil person, nor does it make you a racist.
The ability to vote is a great privilege and responsibility. It’s a defining moment of democracy in our great republic, and these days it’s one of the few instances where public officials even bother to listen to voters.
So far, close to 4,000 people have cast their ballots. The city of Mountain Home alone has a population of over 12,000 people and inside the school district there are almost 25,000 registered voters. Our voting numbers should be much higher than they are.
So, please, log off social media. Put down your phones. Take a breath. Tune out the noise. Cast your ballot.
See you at the polls, Mountain Home.
Chris “Mr. Journalist” Fulton