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As we close a strange election week, we want to look forward: What’s coming next? What issues in our country need to be addressed? How can we really have an effect on those issues?

We think the best way to answer these questions is right here at home, and in order to make change, we must be civil with each other.

State and local elections in many cases have more impact on your day-to-day life than who the president is. Mayors, city councils, county commissions, school boards, sheriffs, prosecutors — these are the positions that can change a community.

But how many of you looked at the local races on your ballot and had no idea what the candidates stood for, or even how that office or candidate would affect your life?

Prosecutors pick which cases are pursued, and which are not. Legislators help draft the state budget. Health district board members are sourced from county commissions. During this pandemic, school boards have had to make crucial decisions.

These elected officials are our neighbors and friends. They shop at WinCo, and get stuck in Eagle Road traffic, too. They also have a vested interest in the success of our communities.

Can you imagine what our community would look like if people took their passion for the presidential election and funneled it into local engagement?

We’d love to see an increase in energy devoted to community issues. If you’re passionate about a particular topic or cause, find a way to tend to it here at home.

Getting and staying engaged with local government has gotten easier since the COVID-19 pandemic. Most (if not all) meetings are held via video conference call.

Agendas are online, and you can even submit a public comment online if you can’t attend the meeting.

Local charities are always seeking more volunteers, donations and monetary support.

Try running for office. Most candidates in Canyon County’s general election races ran unopposed this month. With more candidates, primaries and general elections can be a vibrant competition of ideas — if there are competing candidates. That discussion between candidates leads to more ideas, more perspectives, and hopefully, more solutions.

Most of all, we hope that, as this election season winds down, there’s a return to civility. Or, at the very least, less divisiveness.

That’s not to say people shouldn’t disagree; life would be boring if we all liked the same things. It’s also not to say people shouldn’t be passionate. Our country has plenty to work on, and without that passion, we probably wouldn’t get much done.

But we still have to listen to each other, even if we disagree. We have to accept that many people won’t share our views, and that combative discussions can’t change that. People who feel attacked aren’t receptive to new ideas.

Defining ourselves and our relationships with loved ones by political opinion hampers constructive discussion. And we need that if we’re going to find solutions for community problems.

Editorials are based on the majority opinion of the Idaho Press editorial board, comprised of community members Rod Gramer, Rosie Delgadillo Reilly, Tracy Watt, Nicholas O’Bryant and Pat Klocke, and Idaho Press President and Publisher Matt Davison. Idaho Press managing editor Holly Beech and city editor Tess Fox are non-voting members. Views expressed in the editorial do not necessarily represent unanimous agreement among all board members. 

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