What makes for good elections
Tuesday, July 08, 2014 12:00 AM
After a handful of primaries and a couple of runoff elections last month, we are now staring at November and the general election.
Aside from the statewide races, which will include a showdown between incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley and repeat challenger state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, there are several seats opening up in Lakelands municipal races. There is plenty of time for incumbents and challengers alike to get their paperwork done as filing deadline is Aug. 15, and it will be interesting to see what transpires.
So far, only a trickle of filings have taken place. A couple of incumbents are facing opposition, but that’s about it for election activity. For now. The local election scene is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game as some potential candidates are waiting to see if the incumbent will file for re-election. And in some cases, perhaps, no one wants to challenge the incumbent. That could be a compliment to the incumbent, of course, or a sign that the would-be challenger would not even bet on himself in the race.
From our perspective, we like to see some healthy debate, meaning there is nothing wrong and plenty good about incumbents having to defend their seats. The key here, however, is healthy debate. There is no need for single-issue candidates to come forward who have little or nothing really to offer beyond a grudge to settle. It is when candidates step forward because they have a differing vision for the direction the town or city should go, and clearly express in detail their vision that a healthy debate can take place. This sets the scene for the residents to make clearer choices. If they are happy with how they are currently represented and the direction their elected leaders are taking them, that will become evident in the election. The opposite is also true, obviously.
If there are residents in the Lakelands who believe they have something to offer their towns and cities, by all means they should give serious consideration to filing for the upcoming elections. And they should stand ready to articulate their vision, their plan, preferably in an open forum that allows residents to hear from the incumbent and the challenger on equal footing. Elections are not popularity contests. At least, they should not be. Elections should be about leadership that best fits the wants and needs of those being served. Yes, one who is elected can become popular because he is leading in a direction desired by the majority of voters. That is well and good.
When someone believes he or she has a better sense of the direction needed, that he or she is best suited to lead under a new plan, then that person should indeed step forward. It is far better to articulate what you believe is wrong and how you would go about changing it, and match that with a willingness to be on the frontline, than to just sit back and complain.