Get Out and Vote

Early voting just started, so you can head to a polling site to vote in any number of important local and statewide races. Several county commission, Florida Legislature, school board seats and many more elected positions are up for grabs.

But those aren’t the only critical races that require you to fulfill your democratic duty.

Folio Weekly launched its annual Best of Jax ballot today (see pages 44 and 45 or go to Sure, a school board member can shape your child’s education and a county commissioner may be able to raise or lower your taxes, but the categories on this ballot are fundamental to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in Northeast Florida.

We’ve brought back most of the favorite categories and added a few choice others.

Best Food Truck: Whichever one is closest to me right now.

Best Waste of Public Money: I can think of a really big one in the middle of downtown. OK. That’s too obvious.

Best Local Politician Who Needs a Slap Upside the Head: Where do I begin?

Best Place to Stay Cool: How about freezing? Everywhere I go, I need a sweater to combat subzero air-conditioning. Am I the only person who breathes a happy sigh when I walk outside and feel my fingers and toes start to thaw?

In honor of our annual readers poll, I have created a few of my own categories:

Best Way to Have a Beer: With friends and coworkers at any locally owned bar, pub or restaurant to celebrate or commiserate. Particularly if the beer is local. And there needs to be food.

Best Way to Avoid Traffic: We can complain all we want, but the traffic isn’t that bad here. Trust me. But another closure around the Mathews Bridge sure isn’t helping.

Best Customer Service: How often do you get bad customer service and just chalk it up to “that’s the way things are these days”? Then there are the times when someone treats you with respect and kindness, and it really stands out in your mind. The folks who work at my new Starbucks on Southside Boulevard in front of The Avenues Mall are warm and friendly, as though they’ve known me my whole life. I’ve been to two different Tijuana Flats locations in the last three weeks; both of them have been impressive. And I have to give a shout-out to Patricia at Olio downtown, who recognizes me as soon as I walk in the door. If you’ve had memorable customer service somewhere recently, let me know.

Best Way to Spend a Day: Doing anything with my daughter.

Best Time to Go to Bed: It’s getting earlier and earlier, I’m afraid.

Best Neighborhood in Need of More Restaurants: When my husband and I bought our home in Arlington six years ago, I quickly realized that I was in a bit of a restaurant desert. I’ve eaten a lot of Bono’s, Gene’s (Seafood) and Nero’s since then. A few places have come and gone, most of them not very adventurous. That’s why I’m psyched about the appearance of Cleota’s Southern American Cuisine in the old Angelo’s Italian location on University Boulevard. Owner/chef Celestia Mobley knows there’s an untapped market of hungry customers in Arlington. Here’s what I have to say to the people who keep opening awesome restaurants in San Marco, Riverside or Avondale: What are we, chopped liver? There are plenty of people with good tastebuds and good money in Arlington. I’ll tell you one other thing we have plenty of — parking (see Ron Word’s story on page 7).

Best Concert to Look Forward To: Chris Isaak at The Florida Theatre on Sept. 13, with my husband.

Best Way to Get Your Voice Heard: Write a letter to Folio Weekly or send us a Backpage Editorial.

Seriously, I don’t want you to think that the local races in this primary election aren’t important. They are critically important. At a time when more people’s right to vote is being restricted through loss of early voting hours or lack of notice when voting rights have been restored, it’s more essential than ever for voters to participate.

Read up on the candidates running in your district, make a reasoned choice and exercise your right to vote by going to the polls now for early voting, or on Tuesday, Aug. 14 for Election Day.

And make your selections on our ballot. You won’t have to study up for these. Just go with your gut.

By the way, here’s my favorite category from our readers poll:

Best Reason to Love Northeast Florida: It’s home.