If you were paying attention last week, and going by voter numbers most of you were not, we held what around here is referred to as “the big election.”
It’s called this because the two biggest offices in the county, so some say, are up for grabs. County mayor and sheriff were each won by comfortable margins by Republican candidates and after a Republican sweep in the County Commission races, there was one Democrat left standing on the county stage.
The one Democrat was Marty Cook ,who proved that immense popularity and being well liked and a genuinely nice person can overcome the red wave that has swept Monroe County in the past 10 years. I wonder what happened 10 years ago that re-energized Republicans? Nothing comes to mind …
Depending on what side of the aisle you stand on, this past election either put a permanent (only guaranteed for four years) smile on your face or made you wonder exactly what you had done to anger the election gods.
Because you have to pick a side to be on. As a faithful occasional reader wrote to me recently, we’ve come to treat politics like sports and you can’t have any fun watching sports unless you have a favorite team.
Personally, I try not to pay attention to parties when it comes to local elections.
I also never vote in primaries because I don’t believe in them. If you want to run for something, then run for it. You shouldn’t need a “party” telling you it’s OK to run.
I know one of the arguments against such a system is that you would crowd fields, split votes and maybe end up with a fringe candidate that might take things in a nightmarish direction. Geeze, I’d hate for that to happen.
But you might also wind up with somebody the two parties sneered at who would finally turn everything in the right direction and make us see how silly the party system is. Hey, you never know.
I also think, personally, that there are way too many offices that hold elections.
The fee collecting offices and record keeping offices have no reason to be elected as the offices don’t set policy, meaning their politics don’t matter. You can hand your property tax payment to a Republican just as easily as you can a Democrat.
If you doubt that, look at how often the incumbents in these offices are challenged.
Until Cook was challenged in her non-policy setting office, I couldn’t tell you the last time any of them had to fight off an opponent. Granted, all of them are likable people who run their offices well, but the fact that nobody seems to want the offices speaks to just how much wanting political office is about wanting power.
In my perfect world, the County Commission, which does set policy, would hire people to run those offices and they would have civil service to protect them from anyone who might get on the board and decide their spouse or brother or whoever needs to run that office.
I can dream, I suppose.
Cut out all of those offices and the “big election” becomes about the sheriff and county mayor and County Commission seats.
It becomes streamlined and smooth and cuts out all the noise. You might even get the chance to learn who your commissioners are.
Not that many of you care.
Monroe County has a little more than 29,000 registered voters and yet, only a little more than 10,000 of them voted in the “big election.”
I’ve always thought of it this way. Draw a big circle and call it Monroe County. Inside that circle draw a small circle a third of the size of the big one. That’s the people who actually care about Monroe County politics. When you take out the people who only care because they have a government job, the inner circle gets even smaller.
Most people realize that local politics don’t affect them much beyond the property and sales tax they pay.
And even the sales tax is mainly state driven. Yeah, you might have a little trouble if you run afoul of a zoning plan, but how many of us have actually had that experience?
And those of you that did vote, how many of you looked at the ballot, especially for county commissioner, and thought, “Who are these people?” Of course, you can say the same for congressmen and senators and governors and even, in some cases, president.
But I’ll be honest. If I didn’t work this job, I probably wouldn’t know who the sat on the County Commission. Or the city boards, to be honest.
But I would vote. And so should you. Your next chance is November. Don’t blow it again.