Local representation at the heart of Tuesday’s election

Tuesday marks a classic “off year” election. There’s no presidency at stake. There’s no governor’s chair at stake. Voters aren’t being asked to decide who they wish to be their next state representative or senator, U.S. congressman or senator.

But if it’s true that the closest connection between citizens and elected officials is the one that is most local, then Tuesday is important in dozens of municipalities and school districts in our region.

There are township supervisors, borough councilmen and school board members being elected Tuesday. Neighbors are voting on neighbors, asking them to represent them in decided future issues in their townships, boroughs and school districts.

In most of these municipalities and school districts, the pressure to make sound local decisions has never been greater. Taxpayers are stretched to the bone and can’t afford expensive mistakes. Outside funding sources will likely become more elusive in future years, so there is a premium on sound decision making at the local level.

Voters will be deciding Tuesday who they think is most qualified to make those key decisions.

Nowhere will that decision be more important than in the City of Williamsport, where three City Council spots are up for grabs. The city faces a basketful of key issues in the future underfunded pensions, downtown development quandaries, manpower decisions regarding police, fire and codes personnel.

The three people elected to City Council posts Tuesday will be making some critical decisions in the next few years.

Looking more broadly to all of Lycoming County, there is a sheriff’s seat being contested and one Lycoming County judge, Richard Gray, is up for retention. For our two cents, Judge Richard A. Gray has done an exemplary job is judge and we would recommend his retention.

Looking beyond this election, we would much prefer that more of Tuesday’s races were contested. It is sobering to see how difficult it is getting to fill local slates for municipal councils and supervisors’ boards. There are reasons too numerous to fit in this space for the problem, but suffice it to say that future, positive leadership must be nurtured and encouraged in many of the region’s communities.

Otherwise, the future will become even more daunting than it often looks on a local governmental level.