Turnout for forum disappointing

Published 6:38 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

Western Tidewater, no different than many communities across the country, is facing tremendous challenges.

Stagnant if not depressed economies, increasing tax rates and declining performance in our schools are common challenges. To reverse the trend will take a tremendous amount of hard work and a clear vision of how to achieve improvement by those tasked with oversight for our community. The task of recovery and growth will only be made easier if residents engage in the process.

Many feel, and we agree, that the upcoming local election will be one of the most important in our community’s history, which makes the turnout for the recent Southampton County board of supervisors candidate forum sponsored by The Tidewater News concerning on a couple of fronts.

Given the number of folks who claim to be genuinely concerned about the future of Southampton County, it was surprising to see only 120 turn out for the event. Based upon the serious nature of the issues the county is facing, an informed decision on who should lead going into the future is more vital than ever.

Voters had an outstanding opportunity to hear, firsthand, what each candidate sees as his or her priorities and what they would do to resolve them, and make a more informed decision based upon that information. Many took a pass on that opportunity.

We were also struck by how few of the county’s younger voters were in attendance. This election, perhaps more so than any other in recent memory, will determine the course of Southampton County’s future.

No one stands to benefit from positive leadership, or suffer from poor leadership, as much as younger voters. Public involvement by younger residents has been on the decline for years.

Our future success requires that they, as well as their more seasoned neighbors, come off the sidelines and get in the game.