Editorial: Do the most American thing — vote!

Each election cycle we encourage candidates to write letters introducing themselves to our readers. These letters are not meant to be political advertisements or attacks on opponents, but simply a way of saying “here’s who I am and what’s important to me.” 

We typically headline them “Why I am running” or something similar, and that essentially explains what these letters are meant to be. We are glad to publish them. 

Today’s Oct. 26 editions of The Suffolk Times and the Riverhead News-Review will be the last ones to print these letters before the Nov. 7 election. In previous cycles, we’ve cut them off ahead of Election Day so that, if someone felt the need to respond to a candidate’s letter, there would not be a back and forth just days before the election.

This year there was another reason to use this week’s papers as the final opportunity for candidates’ letters: Saturday, Oct. 28, is the beginning of early voting in Southold and Riverhead. Early voting is a good way to encourage residents to vote because it’s likely they won’t have to wait in long lines common on Election Day. Early voting is simple, quick and very democratic.

So this week we end the campaign letters and urge eligible voters to cast ballots in our local elections. Government officials at the town and village level are the closest to the people — and closest to the taxpayers who foot the bills. 

You want to know why your taxes went up or why your street is filled with potholes or why the park at the end of the street isn’t better maintained? Vote locally. Stand up and be heard. 

Historically, the North Fork is not that far removed from its New England town meeting roots. Let’s make sure it stays that way. 

Elections like this one are often referred to as “off-year elections.” That means there is no congressional or presidential race on the ballot. It’s all local, and we would argue, as so many political observers have, that voting at your town or village level is the most consequential.

You are voting for the people who pass the laws and set the priorities that directly impact your life. You are voting for the people who run local government and set the budget, which impacts the local taxes you pay. Voters casting ballots at the local level have the most direct control over their government.

There are themes and issues common to both Southold and Riverhead. These include land preservation, development — what kind and where — affordable housing and, perhaps above all, what kind of town you want to live in and what you want it to look like.

You can get involved in the issues — and address those last two points — by going to your polling places, beginning this Saturday, and filling in the circles next to the names of the candidates you feel will do the best job.