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Column: Time to start thinking about political candidates

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The signs of spring are everywhere.

Daffodils, crocuses and tulips? Well, yes, but that’s not exactly what I was thinking about.

Bicyclists, runners and people steering riding lawnmowers? Indeed, those are also signs of spring.

But the signs of spring that I had in mind come in all sizes, shapes and colors — especially red, white and blue.

Yes, I’m talking about political candidate signs.

I don’t think you will find a spot with more political signs in one place than the triangle-shaped property where Second and Third streets merge with Central Avenue and State Street near the Cummins Columbus Engine Plant.

I counted more than 30 of them.

Local candidates are using every edge they can come up with — and who can blame them? — in an effort to get their name out in public and garner your Election Day vote.

We have seen quite a few meet-and-greet announcements come to our attention, and publish them as short news items in The Republic.

Candidate supporters have written letters to the editor on behalf of their favorites. The letter-submission deadline for that is coming up Thursday, with all candidate letters publishing no later than May 3.

We’ve seen candidates getting their face in print in paid Republic advertising.

And, of course, we’re previewing the top races on the front page, as I hope you already have noticed in today’s edition.

We’re in the stretch run of the campaign, with just 16 days until the spring primary. With early and absentee voting underway, ballots already have been cast. As of Tuesday, about 100 Bartholomew County residents already had voted.

Everyone 18 and older ought to take advantage of their constitutional right to vote, but regrettably, too few do.

In the 2012 county primary, which was a presidential year when the highest level of voting usually occurs, 24 percent of registered Bartholomew County voters cast a ballot. You would think at least twice that many would vote. Or three times that.

With early-voting options, including Saturday hours the next two weekends at the Bartholomew County Courthouse, there’s no reason for people to take a red-white-and-blue pass. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and May 3.

That’s when I voted two years ago in the November general election, and it was a breeze. Not so much at precincts, though. Long lines at some precincts in the November 2012 general election had people waiting two to three hours after work to cast ballots.

If it seems like this campaign has been going on forever, you’re not far off.

The first candidate to announce intentions for the May 6 primary did so 51 weeks ago. Four other candidates quickly followed suit in their pursuit in the job that Sheriff Mark Gorbett has held for nearly eight years. Gorbett can’t run again for sheriff, as he is limited to two terms in that particular office.

These sheriff announcements were made about nine months before the official filing period opened in January, although one candidate subsequently dropped out, leaving a field of four.

How do you decide?

We hope to help with that.

Like with today’s coverage of the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for House District 59 in the Indiana Statehouse, we plan to tell you all about candidates in contested local races leading up to the primary. You will learn about their backgrounds, political and otherwise, and their ideas on important facets of public service going forward.

It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.

The successful candidates on May 6 will have direct control of how your taxpayer dollars are spent. Some of them will play a large role in protecting public safety. And across the board, politicians have a huge role in creating or protecting the quality of life that we enjoy or strive to achieve.

The signs of spring remind us of what’s at stake — a lot.

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