I have never been the most political (or politically correct) guy in the world, but I have watched and covered so many elections — local, state and national — over the nearly 25 years I have been the owner and editor of this publication that I can’t help but notice that more often than not, more people than not do not vote in local elections.

And, the #1 reason I hear from New Tampa and Wesley Chapel residents for not voting is always the same: “I only vote in the important elections, like for our President.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you’re a) not already registered to vote or b) don’t plan to vote in the upcoming Primary Election on Tuesday, August 28, or the General “Midterm” Election on Tuesday, November 6, you’re selling yourself — and your community — short.

In August, three of Pasco’s five School Board seats (in other words, 60 percent!) are up for grabs and, unless there is a Runoff Election in any of those three districts (all Pasco School Board and County Commission seats are elected countywide), this will be your only chance to have a say in who will be responsible for building and staffing schools and protecting your public school children.

That fact alone should at least get you thinking about getting out to the polls on Aug. 28, although it is past the deadline to do so if you’re not already registered to vote as you’re reading this. In addition, with so many parents concerned about the future plans (in 2020) to again re-zone the schools in Wesley Chapel, getting out to vote for the candidates you believe will be the most likely to help keep your children where you want them perhaps should be important enough to get you to cast a ballot this year.

Two of those candidates — three-term incumbent Allen Altman in District 1 and Heide Janshon, one of two candidates attempting to unseat two-time District 3 incumbent Cynthia Armstrong — have taken ads (both on page 5) in this issue, in order to try to help convince you to get out and cast a ballot for them.

There also are six local judges and several local Community Development District (CDD) Board candidates who will be elected on Aug. 28, and there will be primaries for U.S. Senate, Florida’s next Governor, Attorney General and Commissioner of Agriculture, as well as the State Senate.

If you decide not (or you’re not already registered) to vote on Aug. 28, you have until Tuesday, October 9, to get yourself registered for the General Election on Nov. 6.

At that time, in addition to voting for U.S. and State Senate, as well as Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture, you’ll also get to vote for two County Commission seats and our area’s Dist. 38 State Representative.

One of those November contests will have Pasco County Dist. 2 Commissioner Mike Moore squaring off against fellow Wesley Chapel resident Kelly Smith. I just wanted to make it clear that the fact that we have a story about Smith, a political newcomer, in our latest issues isn’t an endorsement for her or in any way an indictment of the job that Moore has done since being elected in 2014. We just felt it was newsworthy for our readers that Mike will face an opponent who also lives in Wesley Chapel.

As For Endorsements…

The first 10 or 15 years that I owned this publication, I felt it was my job to go to as many governmental meetings as possible in order to cover those meetings for our readers and to get to know as many of our local, state and some national (such as District 12 U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis) elected officials as I possibly could. One of the reasons I did so was so I could make intelligent endorsements, based on my knowledge of our area’s infrastructure and other needs.

I began phasing out making endorsements about 10 years ago, in part because I have had other people covering most governmental meetings. I never really had any problem with the often negative feedback I would receive when I would endorse one candidate over another, but I will say that I have gotten a lot less hate mail since then. At any rate, get out and vote, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel!

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