Tomorrow across the state the polls will be open, but what will the turnout be in various areas across the state?  It is these primarily non-partisan elections that determine the direction of most local spending in fire districts, ambulance districts, school districts, cities, etc.  Unfortunately, a lot of voters don’t realize what is at stake in these elections.

United for Missouri and United for Missouri’s Future do not endorse candidates.  However, we do believe it is important that people understand what really happens in these local elections.

You hear the term “special interest” a lot these days.  More often than not it’s applied to those who have a different view of things than you or I.  The real definition of a special interest is supporting something that would directly benefit the interest of those pushing for the election of a candidate or law.  In reality, there is seldom a greater example of special interest involvement than in the type of elections occurring tomorrow.

The elections taking place tomorrow put into place members of boards that most people don’t even think about, but which have a significant impact on your safety, your child’s education and your check book.  In almost every case, those who work for the taxpayers in these various political subdivisions support with their time and dollars candidates who will best represent them, not necessarily the taxpayers footing the bill.

One example of the foregoing is taking place in the Mehlville Fire Protection District.  Phil Sutin wrote in the St Louis Post-Dispatch on March 29, 2011, that Firefighters union donates more than $90,000 to defeat Mehlville fire district chairman.

The Board Chairman – Aaron Hilmer – is being challenged by a local businessman who is, as the article relates, being supported by the firefighters’ union.  Why?  Hilmer has dared to challenge and change the status quo – returning the priority to providing the best firefighting protection to the patrons of the district at the best value.

According to the article, Hilmer’s “offenses” include:

Hilmer’s six years on the board of the district that serves much of south St. Louis County have been controversial. He has changed the district’s pension and disability plans to lower costs despite vehement objection by firefighters. He persuaded voters to lower the district’s tax-rate ceiling.

He published last year a chart that compares the 2009 average wages and benefits for firefighter personnel with more than 15 years of service of his district and those of the Creve Coeur, Pattonville-Bridgeton Terrace and Metro West districts, angering other fire officials in the county.

The local community newspaper in Mehlville, Call, has endorsed Hilmer’s re-election, Hilmer’s accomplishments merit his re-election to MFPD board.

Through his actions, Hilmer has proved himself to be one of those rare elected officials who actually keeps the promises he made before being elected. Those promises kept include rolling back the 36.5-percent tax increase from November 2004, eliminating wasteful spending and improving services.

So here is a fellow who puts the taxpayers first and comes under attack for doing it.  I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence, but it happens across the state and in almost every local election.

Smoking bans are all the rage now.  They are the in thing, but hey are really an assault on personal freedoms. From O’Fallon to Springfield and points in between, people will go to the polls to vote on whether to take away the right of private businesses to provide a level of amenities for their customers.

Smoking ban advocates will bring out, among other things, the second hand smoke arguments.  The fact of the matter is no one is forced to frequent a business that allows smoking.  It is a personal choice.  If enough people make a personal choice not to frequent a business that allows smoking, that business will make a business decision to go smoke free.

And that’s the way it should work. Government should not impose either directly or through a vote how a business should to operate.  Government has no business in business.

Many will say “what about the employees and their exposure?”   It’s been my experience that it is not the employees who are the ones “worried” about the issues as much as those whose aim it is to control those private businesses.

I hope that you will participate in tomorrow’s election.  But most of all, I hope that when you do participate you go as an informed voter who is not swayed by special interest mailers.  Take time to really study the candidates and the issues.

If you believe elected officials should represent those they are elected to serve and not those who work for you, then you need to identify the candidate who does represent the taxpayers.

If you believe government should stay out of running private businesses, then you should vote against all smoking bans that are offered to you and question whether any elected official who votes to put one into place should be re-elected.

Don’t complain about what happens – go out and make a difference!