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Our Thoughts: Stand up and run
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It is February and the election season is officially upon us.

Early voting for the presidential primary has begun and we are inundated with national coverage. The qualifying period for all local candidates is just a month away and it is time to pay attention.

This year’s local election is shaping up to be a big one, with such pivotal positions on the ballot as three Board of Commissioners seats, the county Chair, Sheriff, Probate Judge, Board of Education positions, and two state representative seats.

What the future will hold is unclear. But one thing is certain: there will be changes in Newton County’s top level of government. So far, we know for sure that the county will have a new chair and a new District 1 commissioner starting in January. In December Chair Keith Ellis announced he would not run for reelection. Just this week, District 1 Commissioner John Douglas announced his decision not to pursue another four-year term.

We thank both of them for their service to our community.

It is not an easy decision to run for an elected position, yet alone serve in one. Rarely does an elected official make a decision favorable to all constituents; rarer is appreciation shown for the work and time that goes in behind the scenes to be informed enough to make those decisions.

Due to the nature of elections, and public light that politicians put themselves in, voters are much more familiar with the elected than ever before. Therefore, it seems, they feel much more free to talk about the elected, in a positive or negative light. Social Media has made commenting on our elected officials leadership, decisions, or even themselves, easier for the public.

This county has seen its share of Social Media commenters, as well as those who write letters to the editor of this newspaper and letters to their representatives.

The topics range from personal attacks that serve no constructive purpose to insightful suggestions that are now law in Newton County.

We love the fact that those impassioned citizens want to be heard. We live in a country where using our speech is a freedom to make our lives, and the lives of our neighbors, better.

Along with the right to voice our concerns, another right of being American, as spelled out by our constitution, is our right to run for office and represent ourselves and our neighbors.

So we ask those who feel they can make this county, their city, their region, or this country better, take the online posting, the letter writing and the phone calls a step further — contact the board of elections and qualify.

We need people who want to lead the way. We need people with a servant’s heart. We need people with a bright mind to make necessary decisions. Some may already be in office and choose to run again. Others are waiting for the right opportunity.

We urge those who feel that they can make a difference to show their quality and qualify. Your county is waiting on you.