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Our View: Today's election has long-term consequences




Special elections generally feature low voter turnout. 


But, today in Oktibbeha County, we believe the importance of the matters to be decided should ensure voters turn out in big numbers. 


Four elective positions and one referendum item will be on the ballot. 


Voters in Oktibbeha County will select a new chancery clerk and circuit clerk, as well as District I constable. There will also be an election to fill the District 38 House of Representative seat opened with the retirement of Tyrone Ellis. District 38 serves Oktibbeha County as well as parts of Clay and Lowndes County. 


But the biggest item on the ballot is the potential fate of Oktibbeha County Regional Medical Center. Voters will decide whether to allow the county to sell the county-owned hospital.  


Two groups, the Baptist Hospital Group, based in Memphis, and North Mississippi Medical Group, based in Tupelo, have bid on the purchase of the hospital, pending voter approval today. 


The debate over the future of OCH has been raging for more than five years. Proponents of the sale say it's time for the county to get out of the hospital business in a climate where healthcare faces a volatile and unpredictable future. They argue the sale of OCH will lead to improved services. 


Opponents of the sale argue that maintaining the hospital will ensure county residents have a voice in the operations of its hospital and will prevent wholesale changes based not on quality of care, but on profits. 


Certainly, both sides have spent much time not only arguing their points, but attacking the opposing side. 


We urge voters to carefully consider this matter. Ultimately, your vote hinges on a single question: Will the sale of the hospital improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare for the residents of Oktibbeha County?  


Or will it produce the opposite effect? Informed citizens must make that determination. 


This is the kind of decision voters are rarely asked to make, a decision that will affect the healthcare of residents for decades to come. 


Do not let this opportunity pass you by.



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