By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
It’s election season again. While most of us would rather forget last year’s election and all the negativity, lack of respect and in some cases hatred that surrounded it, I doubt we ever will.
This year we have a few special elections going before Douglas County voters. Alexandria, Osakis and Parkers Prairie have school board vacancies to fill, and the Brandon-Evansville and West Central Area school districts have building referendums.
While these will likely not garner as much controversy as last year’s presidential election, there are still plenty of signs that there are strong feelings on these local issues.
And there should be! Referendums and school board elections are important to local communities. We should care, and we should exercise our right to make our voice be heard by voting, or by campaigning on behalf of the candidate or the position we support. But we should do so respectfully.
What does that mean? Don’t attack a candidate personally, rather dispute their position on an issue. Don’t pass judgement or attack people who support the other side or don’t share your viewpoints. Don’t call names. Don’t slander. Don’t falsify information. When you can’t act or react respectfully, walk away.
Here is something I wrote last year during election season that bears repeating: “If you and a friend always end up arguing when you talk politics, agree to not talk politics with each other. If a family member’s Facebook page always gets you riled, unfollow them. If your neighbor’s political sign bothers you, focus on the other side of the street every time you drive by or go a different direction. But please, don’t tell your friend they are an idiot because of their political views, don’t criticize your family member in the comment section on their posts on their Facebook page, and don’t sneak out in the middle of the night and set your neighbor’s sign on fire.”
There is so much damage done to a community when people lose control of their actions and reactions during an election. Don’t let this happen to our community. No matter what happens on election day, Tuesday, November 2 – if it is the outcome you wanted or not – be respectful, be proud that you voted, and do your best to keep focusing on the role you play in making our community the best place to live, work, play and prosper.