A reason to vote — because it sure isn’t for a president

ReubenMees Fall2016


Presidential races always seem to be the most entertaining to watch, but my least favorite ones to actually vote.

And this year’s election is, by far, the bleakest one in my memory.

As a voter, I don’t believe voting for either one of the two major party candidates is a benefit to our country. Even my preferred third party candidate has stuck his foot in his mouth so many times in recent months I have a hard time endorsing him.

Regardless, I will probably cast my vote for him on Election Day and the glimmer of hope that some day America will get over its fascination with the lesser-of-two-evils mentality that accompanies our flawed two-party system.

For those of you who tell me I’m throwing my vote away (as you pointedly try to get me to vote for your preferred candidate), at least you can rest assured that I am not casting a vote in favor of the person you most don’t want in office.

That being said, I do still have a reason to go take part in the electoral process on Nov. 8.

It’s certainly not a local race. The few of those that pop up in Logan County are usually decided in the Republican primary, and this year is no exception.

Instead, this year’s General Election ballot asks local voters to weigh in on how we deal with the drug epidemic that has plagued Logan County.

Specifically, voters in both Logan and Champaign counties will see a 0.7-mill replacement property tax levy for the two-county Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services Board.

Locally, MHDAS provides the lion’s share of funding for social programs to try to help residents stop using drugs, to seek assistance for mental health disorders and to prevent and deal with the aftermath of suicides, among many other benefits.

The levy would generate $1.4 million a year, which is more than a third of the organization’s $3.5 million budget, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $25 per year, or 7 cents a day.

That is a small price to pay to help reduce criminal justice and long-term health care costs associated with untreated substance abuse disorders and mental illness.

In the past two years, Logan County has made huge strides forward with the formation of the Community Coalition for Opiate Relief Efforts — or CORE as it is commonly known.

This coalition brings together individuals from all walks of life to address the growing problem of opiate addiction. Judges and law enforcement officers are working alongside the recovering addicts they once arrested and sentenced to jail terms while mental health providers and the parents of addicts desperately seeking recovery for their loved ones strive to make Logan County a drug-free environment.

And CORE is just one example of the positive work local MHDAS money is making possible. There is also the Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide — or LOSS Team — that responds to help comfort those whose loved ones commit suicide; the Recovery Zone where individuals with mental health diagnoses can find the support and family they desperately need; new mothers are screened for potential postpartum depression while still at the hospital; and school children are able to be assessed as needed for mental health issues.

If all that is not worth paying $25 a year for each $100,000 of property you own, I don’t know what is.

• Maybe education. And if you live in the city, this election features two Bellefontaine City School District issues — a five-year, 6.05-mill operating levy that has been in place since 1986, and a five-year emergency operating levy to raise $1.185 million that began in 2007.

• There is also the countywide renewal of the 0.5 percent sales tax to support roads and bridges. The five-year tax originally was passed 19 years ago and county voters have renewed it on three occasions since.

It is split with 60 percent going toward county road projects, 16 percent to townships, 16 percent to municipalities and 8 percent to economic development. 

• Or if you just want to save some money on your utility bills, voters in Bellefontaine, Belle Center, DeGraff and Quincy can weigh in on whether they want their villages to be part of a collective bargaining group for electric and/or natural gas rates. A yes vote for the aggregation issues will allow the company American Electric & Gas to negotiate better rates on behalf of the customers in those municipalities.

So if you’re one of the independent voters in the fabric of the American electorate who find little promise left in the words of two pathological liars vying for the highest office in the land, remind yourself there is more to the electoral process than just the presidential race.

Get out and help make the decisions that are truly important, because that is what our democracy is really about.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner Staff Writer with a penchant for political rumination. In the spirit of full disclosure, he is also a member of the entirely volunteer MHDAS board of directors and a volunteer with the CORE coalition. He can be reached at rjmees@examiner.org or by phone at (937) 592-3060 ext. 1136.