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In this week’s issue, we unveil the first installment of a two-part Voter’s Guide done in conjunction with the League of Women Voters from the Fairfax Area.

On Tuesday, May 6, voters in the City of Fairfax and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna will have a chance to guide the course of their communities.

Unfortunately, history tells us that most residents are unlikely to cast a ballot.

Apathy during municipal elections is nothing new, and voter turnout is almost always lower when national elections are not on the ballot.

When fewer than 5 percent of a town’s residents are engaged in their local government, everyone loses.

After all, every town and city on this year’s ballot has issues specific to their electorates, and most have little to do with the faraway world of national, partisan politics.

With all due respect to those who closely monitor foreign policy and trade deficits, next week’s election is more about everyday issues such as streets, safety, and sidewalks. Sewer lines, garbage disposal, and local economic development will also be in play. So will property taxation to fund some city and town services. Herndon’s next town council will make some rail-based land use decisions that will affect every town resident and tens of thousands of commuters from neighboring jurisdictions.

It is government at its most compact level, touching on almost everything, including the proverbial barking dog two yards down.

The hope here is that those who do get out and vote familiarize themselves with the candidates and issues in their communities. Serving in local government is a tricky business because people have different ideas and views on what government should be doing.

Elected government, whether seated in Clifton, Richmond or Washington, D.C., should not be viewed as a way to allow mob rule, although the majority voice should be given weight. We elect people to make sound decisions, many of them difficult and unpopular.

Voting day is Tuesday, May 6.

Anyone who is a registered voter should take the time to go to polling stations and cast his or her ballot. When a small percentage of people are the only ones voting, they remain the only ones making decisions.