---- — If you want to have a say in who will be elected to most local government offices, you'll need to get to the polls Tuesday for the primary election.
In northern Michigan — and indeed in much of the state — the real competition for township, county or even state offices comes in the primary, when voters decide between members of the same party to determine who will be on the November ballot.
That's because in most places, one party or the other dominates local elected offices. In Grand Traverse County, for instance, Republicans rule the roost — plus the county board, county offices like sheriff or clerk, the state House seat and on and on.
Whoever wins the Republican primary around here is usually a shoo-in come November. Often as not, Republicans face either a token Democratic candidate with little money or name recognition in November or no one at all.
Up until Ross Richardson won a seat in 2008, there hadn't been a single Democrat on the Grand Traverse County board for years.
There will still be contests in November and a long list of ballot proposals at both the local and state level. Traverse City schools are asking for a millage, Traverse City voters will be asked to give up a strip of parkland to help fix Division Street and there could be seven or more state ballot issues.
And of course we'll be electing a president, a U.S. Senator and U.S. and State House representatives. It will be a full slate.
Locally, however, Tuesday is the big day, so get out and vote.
And don't forget — you can only vote Republican or Democratic; trying to vote for candidates from both parties, even in different races, will spoil your ballot.