Column: The power of one vote- Important election for SAU 16 voters

·3 min read

For over 30 years, in my previous life as a teacher of government to middle and high school students, I taught a history lesson on the power of one vote and how it impacted the course of our nation’s history – whether that be in Congress, on the Supreme Court or even in state and local elections.

As we approach what may well be one of the most important elections and decisions made by the voters in SAU 16 in the 25 years that I have lived in this community, I ask that you consider so many factors as you head to the polls on March 8th and most importantly, that you head to the polls!

Helen Joyce
Helen Joyce

There are many more candidates running in school board elections this year – four seats on the Exeter Region Cooperative, three seats on the Co-op Budget Advisory Committee and several on the elementary boards in the six towns that are part of SAU 16.

Column: Keep partisan politics out of our excellent Exeter public schools

Given the fact that whomever is elected to those seats will be making major decisions for their respective communities for the next one to three years, it is imperative that voters seek the information they will need to make sound decisions before voting. Ask the questions that these candidates should be able to answer for you – i.e. What are their positions regarding the key issues facing our school districts and, if not more importantly, what specific plans do they have to address those issues? What in their respective backgrounds qualifies them to hold a seat on the boards/committee?

One additional point to make here that I believe many do not understand is that when voting for candidates for the Cooperative Board and the Cooperative Budget Advisory Committee, no matter which town you live in, you may cast your vote for the candidate of your choice from all six towns. The reason for that is that in the Cooperative, those who hold elected positions, represent all of the communities in SAU 16.

In addition to the extraordinary importance of selecting board members, you will be making major decisions on the school budgets in your towns, whether that be your elementary budgets or the Cooperative budget, which affects Exeter High School, the Cooperative Middle School, SST and the Adult Education program.

Those budgets have been carefully created, reviewed and debated in public sessions. For those who were not able to attend in person, the deliberative sessions and board meetings for those debates can be watched on Blue Hawk Media at It’s crucial for all to know what the impact of your vote will be when you cast it either for or against the budgets for your town and for the Cooperative District.

On many of the ballots will be warrant articles that will ask voters to approve contracts for paraprofessionals, teachers and building administrators. These are the people who have been on the front lines during the last couple of years and working with the children in grades pre-school-12 through the worst of the pandemic. They have done yeoman’s work in that capacity under the most difficult of circumstances and they deserve no less than your careful consideration of their contracts for the coming years.

Another view: SAU 16- Increased spending, poor results equal failed leadership

While the subject of my editorial concentrates on the SAU 16 school warrants, many of these same suggestions apply to all town warrants and elections of officials.

These are difficult times and the decisions made by voters on March 8th, or whenever non-SB2 towns hold their town meetings, will have far-reaching effects for thousands in our communities.

And so, speaking as a former educator, I am “assigning” you homework – that being to research carefully, ask questions and carefully consider all factors before casting your vote. The children of our communities deserve no less and the power of your vote – that one vote– which may impact them for years to come.

Helen Joyce is a resident of the town of Stratham.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Column: The power of one vote- Important election for SAU 16 voters