July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:17 PM
"You wouldnt know it from the number of people who voted in the primary this year, but its election season again, and there is plenty of important stuff on the ballot.Oak Harbor is electing a new mayor, and three council seats are contested.Three Coupeville Town Council seats are contested. So are two Oak Harbor School Board seats.And well decide whether to pay for the islands only public pool, or let it close.So: The people who run the islands biggest city; the people who run the islands most historic town; and the people who run the schools that many of our kids spend the better parts of their lives in will be chosen Nov. 2 by the people who bother to go to the polls, or mail an absentee ballot.In other words, by not nearly enough of us.Oak Harbor, in particular, has a traditionally low voter registration rate. There are reasons for that a transient military population, etc. but there are no good reasons for it. Military personnel dont lose their residency status in other states if their spouses or other household members register to vote here.And registering to vote is not difficult.You can pick up a registration form at any public library or city hall, and at most schools, or at the Island County Auditors Office in the courthouse in Coupeville. Fill it out and mail it back to the Auditors Office, postmarked no later than Saturday, Oct. 2, if you want to vote in person in the Nov. 2 general election.Between Oct. 2 and Oct. 18, you will have to register in person at the Auditors Office if you want to vote in November. And you will only be able to vote absentee.Dont know anything about the candidates? Keep reading.The Auditors Office will mail a local voters guide to Island County residents this year, complete with lists of candidates and their campaign statements. It will arrive sometime in the middle of October.The Whidbey News-Times also gives you a number of ways to get up to speed on the issues, the races and the candidates, including:In-depth articles: Well start a series of articles soon that will give you neutral coverage of some of the key issues in this years campaign, to arm you with the information you will need to understand the candidates debates. Among other issues, well cover jobs and the economy; I-695: What would we gain, and at what cost?; City fees; A school levy: Does Oak Harbor need one? Wherever possible, well include comments from the candidates, to give you an idea of where they stand. Look for the Issues 99 logo to mark those stories.Island Forum: The forum gives you the chance to read the candidates answers to key questions, in their own words. It will resume next month.Dont know whos running? Starting this week, well run an easy-to-find box will all the information you need to vote: Candidate lists, voter registration information, and schedules of upcoming candidate forums.Endorsements: Need a way to frame your thoughts? Publisher Marcia Smith and I stick our collective necks out in every election to tell you who we would vote for, and why. We dont expect you to agree with us we do it because we think that reading the groundwork behind someone elses decision can frequently help you clarify your own.In addition, keep an eye on our Web page, www.whidbeynewstimes.com. Well store all of our Island Forum responses in the Web pages editorial section. Most of our Issues 99 articles will appear there, too. And on election night, it will include a link to running election totals, both locally and statewide.Thats what well do.Now all you have to do is read, think and go out and decide the future.David Fisher is editor of the News-Times."