|5/20/2020 11:04:00 AM|
Wanted: filers, races
Last week, in preparation for the spring filing period, we asked a simple question of seven incumbents representing parts or all of Cottonwood County: "Will you seek re-election?"
Not surprisingly, all seven said "yes," they would file when the filing period begins this week. The list includes a state senator, state representative, two county commissioners and three Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors.
Some of those filed yesterday, the first day of filing. The deadline to file is June 2. In late-July, another filing period begins for school boards and city councils.
When it comes to elections and the effort to fill ballots, incumbents are the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. The real challenge is avoiding a November ballot loaded with one-person races, which aren't races at all.
America's government works best when voters are given at least two options for every seat. This forces incumbents and challengers to get out and plead their case - whether it be to explain a voting record, or tell voters what a candidate would do differently.
That usually happens with our local District 22 Senate and District 22B House races. Unfortunately, it does not always occur for area county commissioner, school board and city council seats.
This is not to advocate that voters sweep out local incumbents come November. In fact, we have been impressed with many current incumbents - both with their decision-making process and prudence with tax dollars.
However, it's not enough for residents to sit back and say, "We've seen very little controversy, things are going smoothly, and our candidates seem capable. Why rock the boat?"
Elections are not all about winners, losers and addressing controversies. They are about opportunities and public discourse.
Having no race and one candidate per seat often translates into lost opportunities for critical discussions. If, for instance, we see no filers for county commissioner, could this mean even less debate on an already quiet effort to build a multi-million-dollar public works building?
Through the years, many people - even incumbents - have agreed our local election process works far better when races emerge. It's our chance, as residents, to ask key questions and make our points known at a time when we, as voters, hold the upper hand.
We would love to see a ballot brimming with races this fall. If you have any interest in serving any public office, we ask that you take that step, either now or during the summer filing period.
- Rahn Larson