Prior to every election, newspapers make a pitch to the voters to show up. Given the results year in and year out, it is an act that could be used to certify nearly all editorialists as unhinged.

This is especially true in years when local races dominate the ballots and few statewide or federal offices are up for grabs. The maddening factor here isn’t that no amount of imploring seems to get the turnout figure to budge from the basement. It’s that this really is the best opportunity for making your voice heard and your vote count for something.

Some of the races next week will be decided by a handful of votes. Among those races are stark choices in the intent and philosophy of the people who call the shots and effect change in our communities.

We are highlighting this week the commissioners’ race in Chatham County, where the differences are stark and the consequences vast. Anyone who has grasped the future as painted by the current pro-development members of that board knows that an unmitigated, sprawling mass of new housing is on its way, thanks to their efforts.

It’s not by accident that developers, large land owners and Realtors have gotten so involved in the election. They want their interests represented–not the public’s. And while Chatham’s battle is easier to see, it is a fight that is happening throughout the state. Raleigh developers just fought back efforts to have city impact fees cover even a third of the local costs of growth–though estimates are that Wake County will need more than $6 billion over the next decade to pay for roads and schools to accommodate projected growth. Democracy North Carolina reports that the sprawl lobby is North Carolina’s leading special interest, with homebuilders and Realtors giving $537,000 to candidates across the state in the last election cycle. They are backing candidates who reject the idea that planning and funding for roads, utilities and schools need to be assured before new houses are built. If they prevail, if growth isn’t controlled, the result will certainly be more school trailers, more traffic jams and skyrocketing property taxes.

Every so often, the people are offered a direct way to offset the special interests. Our latest chance ends Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. If you’re not sure whom to vote for in this spring’s primaries and general elections, look at our endorsements on page 15, and check out last week’s endorsements issue to see why we chose the people we did. Then, do your job as a citizen. Stand up for your interests. Elect representatives who will work in our interest, not just the interests with the most money.