Voting is a responsibility too many take for granted

NEIGHBORS

October 07, 1994|By KATHY SUTPHIN

My husband's recent fishing trip to North Carolina brought to our home a tangible reminder of the blessings and responsibilities we share as United States citizens.

Midway through Stan's vacation, he and his five buddies chartered a boat for a day of ocean fishing. In addition to catching 178 pounds of tuna, they retrieved a six-foot oar that had been painstakingly carved by hand from some type of white wood.

A wide paddle, which had been bolted to the sturdy handle to help guide a small boat or raft, had been traveling in the ocean long enough to attract seaweed and barnacles.

Stan said the boat's captain and mate had no doubts that the oar had belonged to Cubans who dared a sea journey to flee their homeland for America. It was the second oar of its kind that the boat's crew had captured from the nearby Gulf Stream within a few weeks.

Each blade mark on the hand-hewn oar emphasizes the risks a person or family was willing to take in the hope of being able to live in the United States. It is sobering to think that they may not have survived their quest.

In less than five weeks, Americans will have the opportunity to choose leaders who will help govern our nation at the federal, state and local levels. This is a privilege for which many Americans have died. Voting is also a responsibility of living in a democracy for which others, like the person who crafted the oar, are willing to risk their lives.

In Carroll County, 64,077 voters had registered to vote as of Oct. 5. While no exact numbers are available for the number of county residents who are eligible to vote, 1990 Census figures indicate there are 100,000 people living in Carroll County who are of voting age.

Clearly, there are many eligible people who have not registered to vote.

Elections director Rosemary McCloskey urges people who have not made up their minds whether they will vote in November to go ahead and register. "If you don't and the deadline passes, your options are over," she said.

Voters in Carroll County do very well in turning out for elections, said Mrs. McCloskey. She said 39.13 percent of registered voters cast ballots in last month's primary and 86 percent voted in the 1992 presidential election.

Carroll residents who would like to join the ranks of registered voters to participate in the November election may register through Tuesday. Registration forms are available at branch locations of the Carroll County Public Library, U.S. Postal Service offices and other government agencies.

County government offices, with the exception of library branches, will be closed Monday in observance of Columbus Day. The Board of Elections, in the Winchester Building at 125 N. Court St. in Westminster, will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday to collect last-minute, hand-delivered voter registrations.

Information, (410) 875-3348.

*

A public forum for Carroll County Board of Education candidates will be held Oct. 17, at Mount Airy Elementary School, 405 N. Main St.

The 7:30 p.m. event, which is being planned by Parent Teacher Association volunteer Mary Ann Hayes, will follow a PTA meeting that begins at 7 p.m.

Carolyn Scott, Laura Albers, Gary Bauer and Carole Pecoraro have agreed to attend the forum, which will use a prepared-question, limited-response-time format. Plans call for the forum to take about an hour, with a reception afterward to give the public a chance to meet and talk with the candidates.

"They seemed to welcome the opportunity to speak at a public PTA meeting," said Mrs. Hayes. "I'm looking forward to it and am pleased that the candidates are able to be a part of the evening."

The idea for this exercise in Americanism came up at a PTA Executive Board meeting, and great care is being taken to compose the prepared questions to be neutral and to elicit as much information as possible about the candidates' views.

Mrs. Hayes and members of Mount Airy Elementary's PTA are hoping the community will turn out for the forum.

"The public may like to think of this as their chance to interview the candidates to see who is the best qualified for the job," she said.

The four candidates are vying for two open seats on the five-member Board of Education. As elected board members, the winners will serve four-year terms and will function as part of a policy-making and control board rather than as part of an administrative board.

According to information from the school system's Office of Public Information, board members are supposed to represent the public, to be children's advocates, to be familiar with the operation of the school system, and are responsible for hiring and supervising the superintendent of schools.

Board members receive an annual salary of $1,800, with the president of the board receiving an additional $200. They are also reimbursed for expenses incurred as members, including mileage.

*

Tomorrow will be the last day to register children for winter

sports teams sponsored by the Mount Airy Recreation Council.

Basketball and indoor soccer will be offered to children in the first through eighth grades, as well as wrestling for children ages 7 through 13.

Tomorrow's final registration will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in the lobby of Mount Airy Middle School. Locations, fees and spaces available vary depending on the sport and player's age, but tomorrow is the registration and payment deadline for all.

*

Sunday morning will be show time for area horses and their owners participating in the Mount Airy Saddle Pals English and Western Horse Show at the carnival grounds at Route 27 and Watersville Road.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the show follows at 9 a.m. The event, which is free to spectators, features 31 classes including speed and jumping events.

A cake walk and "Oldies but Goodies" event will also be featured. The show will last through the afternoon.

Sandra Weinreich will serve as the judge for the day. Information: (301) 831-5230.

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