Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Election Day Yawner

Trey Smith

Yesterday was Election Day and it was a real yawner! Aside from two important statewide initiatives, most of the races to be decided were local ones. While big and mid-sized cities and counties may have some competitive and even divisive races, that isn't the general rule in rural counties. As I looked over my ballot, the vast majority of "races" weren't races at all because only one name was listed. You could either vote for someone you've probably never heard of OR you could write in the name of someone who had almost no chance of winning.

Even in the few competitive races, you most likely had no idea whether to vote for frick or frack. It's not like races for city councils or rural school districts merit a lot of coverage in what poses as media in these here parts. You typically have not the foggiest clue of the differences between two or more candidates except for the spelling of their names. In cases like this, I choose not to vote on those particular races. I'd rather make no choice at all than an uninformed one.

Why are there so few candidates for these sorts of local positions? My guess is that most people realize it is a thankless (and often unpaid) job. Local government entities are extremely hamstrung by federal and state budgets, so most of the decisions made are onerous ones, the kind that are bound to tick off most of the voters. Who wants to volunteer to be the whipping boy or girl for an angry citizenry? Obviously, not very many people.

Though I didn't find an example this year, a few years back when I lived in Salem, OR, there were often races with NO candidates. On the ballot was one or more positions for fire district, soil and conservation district, and even a few of the smaller city councils and not one named was listed. The ONLY choice you had was to write in a name. I remember one race in which several people wrote in some fellow's name and, when he was notified that he had won a race he hadn't entered, he declined to accept the seat!

Now there was a smart man!!

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