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Take the wheel, set the route

The people of Tunisia led the way in the creation of The Arab Spring, charging headlong into the task of building a democratic society.

This week, the Tunisian people went to the polls.

An estimated 90 percent of those eligible to vote in Tunisia’s election are said to have done so.

At the same time the Tunisian voters were casting their ballots, voters in Archuleta County were involved in an election — a mail ballot, with ballots due back to the Archuleta County Clerk by Nov. 1. As of Wednesday, around 30 percent of eligible voters in Archuleta County had returned their ballots — a low enough count that the clerk wrote a small article for this week’s SUN indicating concern about the rate of return and urging eligible voters to take part in the process.

True, voters in Pagosa Country are not teetering on the edge of a great historical moment, like the Tunisians, but our moment is important, nonetheless.

Granted, none of the issues is a marquee item; it is not a presidential election year, we are not voting to amend the U.S. or state constitutions.

But, as in any election, the issues before the voter here bear weight.

These issues are particularly important for the younger members of the community.

First is a vote concerning a proposed bond issue to raise money to construct new school buildings. There has been a lot of wind blown about this issue — some of it inaccurate, some small and mean-spirited — but there are solid arguments on both sides of the fence. Some day, new buildings must be built here. Is it now, or not? Younger voters need to make their mark; it is, after all, they who will shoulder the burden of debt, whether it is incurred now or later.

There is an issue on the ballot to raise the mill levy for a specific period to produce revenues for county road work. Is the proposed revenue increase for the county the way to do it? Are there more efficient, effective ways to do it? It is going to cost you more now or later. Is it now, or not?

There’s a school board race on the ballot. Who do you want? Who do you trust?

There is a statewide proposition that proposes a temporary increase in certain state taxes for additional public education funding, increasing the rate of the state income tax imposed on all taxpayers from 4.63 to 5 percent for the 2012 through 2016 income tax years; increasing the rate of the state sales and use tax from 2.9 to 3 percent for a period of five years commencing on Jan. 1, 2012; requiring that the additional revenues resulting from these increased tax rates be spent only to fund public education from preschool through 12th grade and public postsecondary education. Will it work, or will it be yet another tax that does not remedy a problem?

We have written before about the need for younger members of the community to become active in the process; we will continue to do so. If you are 18 to 40 years of age, this election is vital to your interests. It is time for you to step forward and claim control of the society and the environment in which you will live and raise children and grandchildren.

Those of us of age have had our run at it. We’ve done some things well; we’ve done other things poorly. We’ve had our shot.

But we will vote. For the most part, you don’t. You are letting us set your future for you.

You can’t determine the route if you’re not behind the wheel.

Karl Isberg

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