Silly to ask? A waste of time, tax dollars?

We’ve heard this referenced to advisory votes and the fire district formation being posed on the Nov. 6 ballot, and we’ll have to say we strongly disagree. Yes, the results are significant, but more importantly, raising such questions forces the community to engage in and dialog on issues it may otherwise ignore or sidestep.

On Nov. 6, the Idaho County Commissioners are asking residents on whether they support adding more congressionally delegated wilderness and wild and scenic river segments; and the Ridge Runner Fire Department is putting up for vote whether a taxing district should be created to support it.

On the district vote, we’ve heard some criticism that this was approved for the ballot to begin with, that the consensus in the area is in opposition and so putting this on the ballot is a waste of staff time and public monies.

On the contrary, this vote is critical to the issue, and not just in providing definite numbers to those in favor and opposition. It gets neighbors talking and really looking into the merit of a taxing district, and more importantly, it gets us thinking about the importance of this service and how it has been provided, how well residents have been in supporting it, and what do they do afterwards when a “yea” or “nay” majority has been decided.

For Ridge Runner, this issue has been out there for several years, but it’s been the elephant in the room that has been ignored or just talked around. Next month’s vote forces district residents to address it, make a decision with the official numbers to back it up … and move on.

For the commission’s advisory vote, your opinions won’t decide the matter, but they will help the board in determining such issues in the future. And, depending how the vote goes, it can be information the board may use to support and bolster its arguments when dealing with further proposals.

More importantly, we like the use of an advisory vote as one of the tools the commission has in its bag to help in guiding county policy and clarify public opinion is for or against a matter of concern. Used sparingly, it can be powerful in eliminating speculation and rumor-mongering that otherwise might linger and become more of a truth itself that the real facts of the matter.

Definitely, next month, we have some good state and national races to decide, as well as Idaho propositions 1 (horse racing) and 2 (Medicaid expansion) to vote up or down. For our local questions, it’s great to see these up for vote as, regardless of the outcome, the interim discussion and debate will have lasting value far beyond Nov. 6.

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