It’s up to you to decide the winner of next week’s state senate race

Two California Republican assemblymen — Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley — are up for election in the Tuesday, June 4 special election. The voters in Senate District 1 will decide which of these two candidates will succeed Ted Gaines, who gave up the seat when he was elected to the state Board of Equalization in November.

In the past, California elections would have pitted the top Republican candidate against the top Democrat candidate, but the state adopted the top-two primary system in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election unless a candidate collects 50 percent of the vote plus one.

That may disappoint Democrats, who have no opportunity to elect someone from their party next Tuesday. Despite that disappointment, they should still cast a ballot.

Sadly, the voter turnout in special elections is often low, and some county clerks have even called such a turn out embarrassing. The District 1 race is the only contest on this ballot — there are no national races or issues to decide, so many people don’t return their vote-by-mail ballots and many voters stay away from the polls on election day.

We can change all that here in Lassen County if we want to. Dahle, a former Lassen County Supervisor from the North County, probably is the favorite in Lassen County. It’s been more than 50 years since a Lassen County candidate has been elected to the state senate.

Kiley, endorsed by the California Republican Assembly, represents the state’s Sixth Assembly District — mainly the northern and eastern suburbs of Sacramento. While Dahle has great support in Lassen County, Kiley has great support in the valley areas of the district.

The Lassen County Times does not endorse candidates or causes up for election. We leave that decision to the voters. But we encourage our readers to participate and cast a ballot in each and every election. Voting is a hard-fought right of the people that should not be ignored.

Consider this — in the 2016 national election nearly 43 percent of eligible voters did not participate despite the contentious presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to the Washington Post.

We did much better than that here in Lassen County in November 2016 as 75.54 percent (10,807) of 14,307 registered voters cast ballots, but the traditional lack of participation in special elections remains troubling. You, each individual voter, are the only one who can turn this around. It’s up to you.

If you have a vote-by-mail ballot, pick your candidate, drop your ballot in the mail or return it to the county clerk’s office by 8 p.m. Election Day. If you still vote at the polls, take the time to cast your ballot in this special election on Tuesday, June 4.

This is America, where the people elect those in government. This electoral system is only as good as the people who participate in it.

Don’t be stuck on the sidelines, unhappy with the election results. Do your part. Cast a ballot. Sure, we’d all would like to see our favorite candidate win, but that can only happen if we take the time to vote.