Don't ignore the races close to home

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Column by Jim Clark

After suffering through another “debate” Sunday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing I say or do is going to make a darn bit of difference in this political race.
However, I do feel that a lot of people locally are ignoring the important races, the ones that can affect us every day.
On the ballot in Marion County we have one County Commission race, various state legislative races and the sheriff’s race.
There are also Congressional races and a U.S. Senate race.
Unlike the Donald and Hillary, there are several candidates who, on a good day, you can pick up the phone and call, and you can actually get to speak to them, or you can leave a message and be reasonably sure they will set it.
The races that are very important that almost no one is talking about are those for the Senate and the House. Incumbent Marco Rubio is battling against challenger Patrick Murphy in a key fight for control of the Senate. Democrats thought they had a shoo-in for this seat when Rubio was running for president, but once he entered the Senate race the waters were muddied.
I met Rubio six years ago when he was a relative unknown running for the Senate and was campaigning on the Ocala Downtown Square. There was no huge entourage following him as he meandered through the crowd, greeting well-wishers. I remember when he was introduced to Kathy Bryant, who was running for her first term on the County Commission. He asked her if she was going to win, and got a positive answer. Six years later, she has won twice, the last time unopposed.
Control of the House could also be at stake. Depending on where you live, there are a few House races that will attract your attention. We even have one candidate from Ocala, Dave Koller, hoping to get the Democrats closer to control.
The state House and Senate races are a little less vital to the nation, but extremely important to those of us living here in Florida. However, remembering that eventually the Legislature will tackle re-apportionment which will lead to Congressional voting districts … well, you can see the significance.
The in-county races are the battles that can hit close to home. Especially interesting is the sheriff’s race, which for the second straight time featured some intrigue in the early days.
Hopefully whichever man is elected will bring a settling down to the department.
There are also state Constitutional amendments on the ballot, including the ever-present medical marijuana vote.
So stop reading all the stories about Hillary and the Donald, and concentrate on your local elections. The grassroots are where major political movements get started. Make sure you know what you’re doing when you cast that ballot.

Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen.