There are plenty of reasons for the citizens of New Bedford to go vote today in the preliminary municipal election.

There is an old joke that even made to bumper sticker status in the 1970s: "Don't vote, it only encourages them." I agree that voting encourages candidates to run for office and that is a reason to vote, especially in local elections. The people who serve in local government have much more of an impact on the daily lives of their fellow residents than the politicians in Washington, D.C.

This has been a bizarre year for New Bedford politics. A new way to run for office developed and for a brief moment, it was all the rage. The concept of taking out nomination papers for multiple offices struck a chord in the hearts of some folks and, like parachute pants and hoola hoops, it seemed like everyone was doing it.

In the end, only Councilor Brian Gomes will be on the ballot for both mayor and city council.

There are 11 people running for an at-large seat on the City Council. That means that one of the 11 will be eliminated by the voters today. The remaining 10 candidates will battle for the five at-large seats.

One way to vote is to only vote for one of the candidates rather than using all five of your votes. This voting strategy puts that one candidate ahead of all the others on your ballot. So maybe you like an incumbent and you want to reward them, or maybe you like a challenger and you want to see them advance to the finals. It those cases, you should only vote for one candidate. You can also just vote for two or three rather than five and help that small group advance over the others.

If you live in Ward One or Ward Four you have a preliminary election for your ward councilor and that is a great reason to get to the polls.

This is likely to be a low turnout election and that means every voter who goes to the polls will have a larger impact than a year with a huge turnout. Go vote New Bedford; at least then, you can complain with some dignity.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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