Lack of interest in election is concerning

The filing deadline for the Aug. 5 primary passed at noon Monday with nobody running for the county commission seat representing Hillsboro, Durham, Lehigh, and the rural areas in between — not a Republican, not a Democrat, not a Libertarian, not even a Whig. Roger Fleming decided not to run for re-election, which is a shame. He has been a powerful voice of reason on the commission for the past four years, and when the commissioners start ribbing each other he gives as good as he gets.

This is a bigger issue than any single candidate, though. It isn’t unusual for township boards, cemetery boards, or even city councils in some of the smaller towns to not have enough candidates to fill all their positions — although some small towns, such as Ramona, often have tremendous candidate turnout. A county commission seat with no candidates is another matter. Since 2008 when I arrived in the county, only one commission race has been uncontested, Randy Dallke’s 2012 re-election campaign, and none have had no candidates on the ballot.

County government is no small potatoes. The commission deals with major policy and spending decisions that shouldn’t be left to just anyone. The county’s payables for May alone topped $1 million. Unless a serious write-in candidate steps forward, that responsibility could fall to someone whose drinking buddies think it would be funny if their friend was elected.

With the new jail built, one major dilemma for the county is dealt with, but there are more to come. What should the county do about the health department building, which now has a leaky roof? What roads will get repairs or maintenance next year? There are bound to be other unforeseen questions that will need serious consideration in the next four years.

There are plenty of reasonable, knowledgeable people in Commission District 1, and some of them are bound to have the time and interest needed to be a county commissioner. The reasonable, knowledgeable people who don’t have the time should get together and draft a good candidate for a write-in campaign. That would be preferable to the alternative, where nobody gets more than a couple dozen votes and someone is elected who is uninterested — or even someone who has a personal agenda.

— ADAM STEWART

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