Five years. I’ve been at The Herald for five years.

And in that half a decade, I’ve carefully covered and relentlessly written about local politics.

I’ve learned about how much planning actually goes into a city. About how hard both city staff and elected leaders work to keep the city running smoothly.

I’ve interviewed candidates, discovered what each person in charge wants to do for the city, and shared with readers why it’s so important to vote.

I know Rosenberg like the back of my hand. The ins and outs of the city. Who wants lowered taxes, who wants what added amenities in the city. Who cares and who coasts through council.

And yet... And yet I’ve never taken the time to learn about the candidates up for election in my hometown of Sugar Land.

On Monday morning that all changed.

Early voting began this week, and I woke up early Monday to snap photos of citizens voting in one of the many polling locations across the county.

I began at the recreation center in my neighborhood of Greatwood, where I met one of the candidates up for Sugar Land City Council.

Up until Monday, I hadn’t thought twice to get to know the people in charge of the city in which I live.

Sakki Joseph set up shop with his brother in front of the rec center, ready to meet candidates and share his story with people willing to listen.

He explained to me that he was running for council because he wanted to be more connected with the people.

I couldn’t argue with that.

We chatted for a few minutes before I drove off to another polling location to photograph early voters.

But our conversation stuck with me.

I have been preaching to readers to educate themselves. To vote, to be active participants in their communities for five years. But I wasn’t taking my own advice.

When I got to work, I, well, got to work. I read up on Sakki and his opponent Carol McCutcheon.

Only then did I feel comfortable enough to vote.

Because when it comes down to it, local elections are just as important as national ones.

Some could argue they’re even more important.

The people in charge at a city and county level are the ones who set our tax rates. They’re the ones who make sure we receive municipal services. That we have smooth roads to drive on and sidewalks to walk on and stores to shop in.

So, now, through April 27, I implore you to learn about the people running for your local elections. Vote early. You have until April 27 to do so.

The May 1 election will be here before you know it. Wouldn’t you want to be an active participant in your own city?

Contact Averil Gleason at agleason@fbherald.com.

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