You can't run a race alone

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Editorial: Aug. 23, 2012

ISSUE: Candidates for local elected office
OUR VIEW: Lack of interest is disappointing

The passing of the Aug. 14 filing deadline for candidates seeking election to local political office should leave voters with a sense of disappointment.

This disappointment doesn't come from a lack of skill or experience on the part of any of the candidates who successfully filed; their qualifications for office have yet to be determined. Each filing candidate should be commended for a willingness to put their name on the ballot with a desire to remain in or step into a political office.

Frankly, the problem with the resultant ballot lies in the fact that there simply aren’t enough candidates who will be appearing on it.

Within the 14 local races that will make up the Nov. 6 general election ballot, comprising 45 total seats available for each office, 10 of these offices will result in a no-contest decision for voters. In these, the number of candidates filing either fall short of or are equal to the number of seats available.

Two offices – Upton city commissioner and Elizabethtown Independent School Board – each will have unfiled seats.

It’s hard to consider a local election for office a “race” when everyone who appears on the ballot wins a seat regardless of the number of votes cast. Even worse is an office for which no qualified candidate steps forward.

At a time when voters voice collective expectations and demands for improvement within and by their governing bodies, why aren’t more aspiring new leaders stepping forward to guide the way?

Perhaps this apparent apathy is simply a mirror of the same apathy among the electorate in getting to the polls to cast a ballot on Election Day. Perhaps it is due to the polarizing nature of politics in general today, where the rants and arguments of the extreme wings of the parties too often drowns out the dialogue and debate of those in the middle. Perhaps it’s a result of the low regard the public has for those in political office because of illegal and unethical conduct by too many elected officials of late. Perhaps it’s because some believe if they were elected, they’d not be able to truly effect change anyway.

Perhaps it’s due to all these reasons combined or none at all.

Regardless, the ballot is disappointing due to its uncontested and no-contest offices and seats. A community on the rise like ours should have an equally growing pool of well-qualified leaders ready and eager to serve.

Our growth and prosperity as a community says much about us. The lack of candidates for local office does, too.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.