I appreciate and respect the time, energy and money candidates spend during the campaign period to try to earn the right to represent the people of their community, whether it be city, county, state or nation.

I say this with the exception of the disgusting amount of unsolicited negative postcards received in the mail this year from state level candidates. Food for thought: If our state representatives tell us they are so good at listening to us and care about our opinion so much, why do they continue to send mail that everyone complains about getting and that we all agree wastes an astronomical amount of resources and money?

While it’s so easy for many voters to sit behind a screen and talk about what they think about each candidate, let’s remember that each one of those candidates put their name on the ballot knowing they would be subject to their life being under a microscope, and being interviewed for their potential position by members of the general public, some for almost a year.

I have the utmost admiration for the spouses and families of the candidates who have also worked tirelessly to do everything they can to help their spouse or family member follow a dream.

I’m so grateful to live in a community where I had a really difficult time choosing who had my mayoral vote because I think they both care so much about our community and making it a wonderful, progressive place to live and either one would have done a great job. I’m grateful that throughout this year, I’ve gone to so many meetings and community events where candidates who are running against each other chose to sit next to each other at a table and have conversations.

Because at the end of the day, we will now go back to our routine lives and families and try to make our positive difference in the world, and the candidates who were elected will soon begin fulfilling the duties they were elected for.

I encourage you to stay knowledgeable about our government and the issues our communities and organizations face, not just during election year. Remember that there are so many meetings throughout the community that are open to the public and that this is where decisions are made by those who we elect into office.

If you’ve never been to a local government meeting, it’s a great way to see what the processes are for decision making, what kind of decisions are made, and at the beginning and end of every meeting there is an opportunity for members of the public to speak on an issue or concern relevant to the board, so those representatives then have the opportunity to research that issue and make a positive change if it’s within their power to do so.

There are ongoing open meetings held for city council, county commission, library board, hospital board, school board, etc. Each of those meetings posts their agenda a few days prior to a meeting.

Congratulations to the candidates who found themselves winning a majority vote and new responsibilities as representatives of our community.

If you put your name on a ballot and didn’t find yourself with the majority vote, your time and energy were not wasted.

When people run opposed, it encourages voters to learn and better understand what each elected official is responsible for and what issues that office faces. It encourages each candidate to communicate the things that are important to them and make a commitment to the voters regarding the vision they see for that office and their responsibilities within that vision. This generally isn’t done when someone runs unopposed.

Whether you participated in the election or not in any way, I hope you find a way to make a positive difference in the world today.

Ashley Maden is a staff writer at Winnemucca Publishing. She can be reached at a.maden@winnemuccapublishing.net.