Primaries. What primaries?

By Samir Shukla

Many towns and cities in the Carolinas as well as around the country will be electing mayors and city councils in November. But the first order of business is to go through the primaries and thin out the field. In Charlotte there are several candidates vying to be their party's mayoral nominee. Similar fields of selection await many towns around the Carolinas. Most voters are too busy to vote in what seem like minor primaries.

Mid-term elections generally have a very low turnout. The primaries for these fare even worse. What many people fail to grasp is that these local elections and resulting elected officials have a huge impact on regional budgets and they set either progressive or conservative agendas depending upon which party controls the city councils and the state legislatures. Things that immediately impact localities are decided in city councils, by mayors and state legislatures.

Federal elections are the headline grabbers, but local and regional elections affect folks' wallets much more. Budgets for schools, hiring of teachers and green lighting money for social services are some of the items decided by local and regional politicians.

Do some homework. Find the candidates running for mayor or city council in your town. See what they are about and where they stand on issues. If you can, make an effort and vote in the primaries. Their results will pick the candidates running in the general election. And then mark your calendars for the general elections.

There are several primaries scattered throughout the region in September. Check the state board of elections for North Carolina (www.ncsbe.gov/ncsbe/) and South Carolina (www.scvotes.org) for a list of registered candidates along with election dates and deadlines.

Georgia and Virginia have similar board of elections sites and are quite informative.