Let’s be clear with two things right from the get go. First, this column is my opinion and mine alone. In NO way is it a reflection of anything to do with the Tri-City Times. Secondly, I have no dog in either of these issues/races.

Controversial elections seldom breed warm fuzzy feelings amongst voters.

Typically, you are one of three people. You either use a number of ways to cast your vote yes, or no, or you just don’t vote at all.

The State of Michigan has made it as easy as possible to do your civic duty, with the addition of Early Voting.

Voters can now vote early (but not often), cast an absentee ballot or go to the polls in person.

From time to time, like the February 27 vote, ballot questions become contentious for some. Such is the case locally.

In Imlay City, voters are being asked to consider a Public Safety millage which if successful, would see the joining of emergency services, police and fire, under one umbrella.

Proponents say the eight year millage would allow for the purchase of new emergency vehicles, better opportunity for emergency services grants and staffing, to name a few positives.

Those opposed claim it is a waste of tax dollars and another layer of government.

Maybe so, but I honestly wonder if taxpayers are willing to roll the dice and vote no.

In a time of emergency, either police or fire, a no vote means you call for assistance and hope the aging fire trucks work when they arrive.

Or will there be enough coverage of police officers (especially nighttime calls) without having to wait for assistance from other agencies.

Time matters. I have been there and done that in the fire service (for 27 years), and I can tell you there is nothing worse than getting to a scene and, for whatever reason, one of the older trucks does not perform.

I have also been there and done that when it comes to waiting for a law enforcement officer at a hostile fire or accident scene. Time matters.

While it won’t eliminate all situations, a positive response to the Public Safety millage would certainly help with newer equipment for both departments along with additional staff (full-time fire chief and two police officers).

If successful, the millage will cost Imlay City taxpayers less than fifty cents a day.

To me, that’s pretty cheap insurance that operating fire trucks are coming if I need them.

Or to have a commercial building fire inspection.

Or that a police officer is able to actually able to not just respond to a call, but actually have the time to be able to follow-up with investigation when it’s needed.

No question, the issue in Imlay City has caused plenty of fodder at local coffee shops and other gathering points.

Meanwhile, many of the folks in the Almont school district are in a similar situation, with an upcoming school bond issue.

The school board has presented a $58.4 million bond issue that has flat out caused hard feelings among many people.

The school board president labeled the upheaval as “vitriol” which in part is defined as “bitter, deep-seated ill will.”

I have been to countless meetings where there is clearly a line drawn in the sand.

It has escalated to property damage being done to resident’s homes or property.

That is uncalled for, in my opinion. It is one thing to take a stance, either way, in what you believe.

It is completely another thing (and criminal?) to take it to the level it has in a few select cases.

I was on the Yale School Board when we passed a millage to build the current high school.

I have been through the meetings. Had threats made. Things that were said just to be spiteful and harmful.

Through it all, myself and fellow board members stood tall and ALWAYS had the students, both present and future, in mind. Always.

No one wants to pay more in taxes. But it happens every day.

The Almont School Board has worked hard to present a plan that will take the district well into the future.

While I certainly am not speaking for anyone on the board, I’ve left meetings knowing they care about the students and what the district can offer them.

It’s a difficult decision for some. I get it.

For others, it’s a “no-brainer” as one person wrote in a recent Letter to the Editor.

Times are hard, for a large majority of us.

That doesn’t give us the right to attack governing bodies, whether in school districts or municipalities.

Almont school officials have begged for the public to ask questions. They haven’t.

Instead, as pointed out by one board member, they’d rather go to social media and vent, or spread false information or half truths.

Early vote (through the 25th). Vote absentee. Go to the polls. But, don’t sit home and not vote, and then come out and make a scene at a public meeting.

Make your vote count.

Regardless of the outcomes of the two millages, be a part of the solution. Offer your thoughts, in a civil way.

Ultimately, in the end, whether these millages pass or fail, residents still live, work, play together as a community.

Members of close knit communities rally in the time of need. We’ve all seen it a hundred times.

I ask that you not let these issues destroy what has taken years to build. Friendships, a sense of community. A friendly wave or greeting as you walk your dogs around town.

I’m all for expressing your opinions. With respect and dignity.

Our future (children) deserves to see us at our best.

Not fighting and spreading “vitriol” amongst ourselves.

Contact Dave at editor@pageone-inc.com