Lots at stake this fall when voters go to polls

The municipal election every four years has traditionally been active and interesting in Terre Haute. With the mayoral race leading the ballot, voters have had plenty of motivation to engage in the campaign and participate in the process.

This year's election, however, is taking on an even greater sense of urgency. And not only voters in the city will be involved. Two ballot questions are destined to roil the electorate and stir vigorous debate.

Rather than just a city election, this will be a countywide election. While only Terre Haute residents can vote for the city offices on the ballot, all eligible voters in the city and Vigo County will be able to vote on the referendum questions concerning a tax increase for the school corporation, and a possible casino.

Unlike most elections, choosing between candidates for elective offices is far from the only issue to consider.

The casino question will provoke a lively discussion in some sectors. But casinos have become pervasive entertainment venues across the country and are becoming even moreso. You don't have to travel far to reach one now. We suspect a segment of voters will look on the question with a shrug.

The school funding referendum, however, stands to provoke more intense scrutiny. It's a pocketbook issue. The tax-rate increase is not insignificant. And neither are financial challenges facing the school district.

Meanwhile, we now have a four-way race for mayor, with a Republican (incumbent Duke Bennett), a Democrat (council member Karrum Nasser), and two independents (former city engineer Pat Goodwin and political newcomer Shane Meehan).

Bennett is seeking a fourth term as mayor. He won a narrow victory in his last election. The challenge looks to be every bit as steep this time.

As the election season nears, the campaigning and rhetoric will intensify surrounding all these ballot issues.

We're confident candidates and others with a stake in this election will do their part to court voters and earn their support. But voters must be engaged in the process as well. We urge voters to tune in, pay attention, be informed and go to the polls on Nov. 5. This election is a crucial one. The electorate has big decisions to make.