I woke up on Jan. 4, the first working day of the New Year, took a deep breath and sensed something new in the air.

It was a mix of many things: optimism, hope, dreams, and a touch of fear, loathing, and, above all else, indecision. That can only mean one thing: it's an American election year.

As a reporter, I can't express the amount of excitement over this on paper. It would have to be on some sort of magical parchment that emitted the sounds of angels singing every time I wrote on it with a silver pen that contained ink made of gold.

To top it all off, it's a full election year. From local council and mayoral races, to state senate and house races, to elections on sales taxes and state taxes, all the way up to the U.S. Congress and, of course, the President.

Everything's up in the air, and it's amazing.

Firstly, there's the local tax elections, which includes a vote for a new tax. Grady Memorial Hospital is looking for a 0.25 percent county-wide sales tax to fund renovations, and voters go to the polls on Feb. 9.

On top of that, there's the matter of a 7/32nd sales tax that will go before voters in the spring. It's not for a new tax. The 7/32nd tax is already applied, and the money goes into a fund to be used only for economic development purposes in Chickasha.

What the city is asking for is to change the language so that this money goes into the city's general fund to help fix a budget gap. The city then wants to offset the movement of funds away from economic development by increasing the hotel/motel tax (which residents to do not pay) from five percent to eight percent.

And of course, the State of Oklahoma wants to pass a one penny sales tax to help fix its much larger budget deficit of about $900 million. 

There's a mayoral election, with incumbent Hank Ross seeking his final term against challengers Tom Rose and Michael Chambone. At the same time, Ward 1 Council seat will be contested by four different candidates, all different than the current holder of the seat, Chris Ferguson.

Jerry Pittman, Joe Green, Larry Wasson and Mark Keeling will all look to change the makeup of the current City Council.

With the shopping center underway close to the turnpike and questions over infrastructure still looming, there's no loss in importance of these city elections. 

State Representatives Leslie Osborn, Scott Biggs, David Perryman and Scooter Park all face re-election battles, while State Sen. Ron Justice will term out of his seat. 

Add to that the federal elections that includes a new President, and it's easy to see why 2016 will be a full year. But it won't be a fulfilling year without voters.

I know there's a lot on the table, and I know it will get overwhelming. But the only way any of us can be part of what is changing about our country and our home towns is to take part.

Don't treat this like a New Year's resolution, where it's exciting while reading this and thinking about it now, but not worth it later. 

A government by the people only works if the people are willing to do their bit. I, for one, can't wait to jump into the voting booth.

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