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Voting: a resident's primary responsibility - Jason A. Smith

In less than two weeks, residents in Henry County will go to the polls, and vote for their choice of candidate in a number of races.

Granted, July 15 is just the primaries, but most races don't have any Democrats running. So, the direction of the county for the foreseeable future will effectively be decided by the time the polls close.

I've been looking forward to the primaries for a while now, for a few reasons.

For one thing, I was recently registered as a Henry County voter, after more than a year of working in, and learning about, the area. I also feel, due to the privilege of working at a newspaper, I have a better grasp on various issues than I ever had before.

When I lived in Rockdale and Newton counties, I didn't know much about local politics, and I didn't really seek to change that. I was in my own world, doing my own thing, without any real concern for what was going on in the area around me.

As long as I got paid at work, had a vehicle to get me there and a place to lay my head when I got home, I was fine.

Sure, I had my opinions, but most of them dealt with national or state issues. I had no idea who the state representatives in those areas were, or who held most of the positions county voters decided on in local elections.

I fear there may be other people like that here in Henry County. With the population growth the area has experienced in recent years, some newer residents who don't know a lot about Henry politics, might not have made plans to vote in the primary.

Others, of course, might not be voting because they've traditionally voted for Democrats, and don't feel a connection with the majority of candidates running in county races.

However, there's an old adage which, for Henry voters, rings truer this year than it likely has in a long time.

The saying, "All politics is local," is exemplified by the upcoming primaries in Henry. In several of those races, there is no incumbent running. So, a number of changes may be in store for county residents - changes which will dictate the direction in which we move as a community.

What will those changes be? That's where the voters themselves come in.

I'm not trying to advocate voting for a particular candidate for any of the races in the primary, or in the general election in November. Who a person supports isn't the issue.

The important thing is to vote, because all politics are, indeed, local. We have not only the right to make our voices heard, but also the responsibility to do so.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.