If your town is holding elections today and you're thinking about sitting it out, let me tell you why that is a bad idea:
You're giving up your say about who leads your city. And that is the most powerful elected job around. That's right -- more important than the governor or Legislature, which get far more attention.
Your local elected officials have far more influence on your daily life. I wrote a whole column about that a couple months ago at the start of this election cycle and have reprinted part of it below.
So if you live in Apopka, Maitland, Belle Isle, Edgewood, Winter Garden or Winter Park, take some time to hit your polling place today and cast your ballot. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and you can find your polling place information here.
A reminder from my earlier column:
Governor may be Florida's highest political post, but it's not even close to the most powerful when we're talking about decisions that can make your life better or worse.
No, the most powerful people sit on your local city council — the people many of us can't name or wouldn't recognize if you sat next to them at a Magic game.
Don't believe me? Consider the following:
The city council sets your property taxes. It's rare nowadays to see a council raise property taxes, but they have the power to do it.
If you want to pull a permit to renovate your home or repair a plumbing problem, how much you pay (and how easy or difficult it is to follow the process) is all determined by the council.
Traffic. The governor oversees the state Department of Transportation. That's a big deal because the DOT decides when and where to widen state roads and highways, build overpasses and invest in transit such as SunRail.
But, when it comes to your daily commute, the city council can be just as powerful. Council members set the budget for local road projects and influence everything from whether an intersection should have a traffic light or a roundabout to how many lanes the road outside your subdivision has.
And don't forget, local elected officials also dictate if a town will have red-light cameras and how high the fee will be for violators.
Quality of life. This is a biggie when it comes to city councils. The governor can do a lot of things, but he isn't going to build a splash pad for your kids at the local park or organize an outdoor movie in the town plaza.
Council members can influence everything from whether time and money is spent to try to revive a dreary downtown to whether parks need new playgrounds.
They set the tone for how welcoming a city is for art festivals, farmers markets and other events.
And your council can bring misery just as easy as it can the fun stuff. A city's elected officials decide if land near your house will be rezoned for a gas station or an building. They choose where the landfills go and which neighborhood gets the next park.
Final authority. The Legislature acts as a check (at least, theoretically) on the governor. The governor can veto laws, but also can be overruled by two-thirds of the Legislature.
There isn't another branch of government keeping tabs on the city council. You can always sue the council if you disagree with a decision, but that takes considerable time and money.
It's much easier to pay attention to elections, decide who you think will do the best job and vote.