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Some tough election questions

By Staff | Aug 14, 2016

What if you had an election and nobody showed up to vote?

Or what if you had an election and there wasn’t anyone to vote for on the ballot?

You might think I am once again going to whine about not being able to choose someone to vote for in the presidential election this coming November. But, I am not.

Oh, it is true that I feel people are going to stay away from marking the box next to either Clinton or Trump. And, that is because there really isn’t anyone they feel they can vote for. I know, that’s how I feel, too.

But it is not that presidential election I am referring to.

The election where nobody showed up to vote would be last Tuesday’s Primary Election. And the election where there are no names on the ballot could be the General Election this coming fall but not the presidential race. I refer to some local voting for city councils and school boards.

Here is what I mean.

Much to no one’s surprise, there was an extremely low turnout of voters in the Primary Election.

Let’s face it. There really wasn’t much on it to vote for unless you were a strong Republican or Democrat party member.

Voters could help decide who was going to run against some incumbents in both Congress and the State Legislature.

Residents yawned, asked “What election?” and stayed away in droves. I can’t say as I blame them.

Election judges sat and read books, worked crossword puzzles, or visited with the few people who showed up to vote. It was a long, pretty boring day for them.

My second point has to do with the filing period for local offices.

Not a lot of folks are flocking in and paying the two-dollar fee to get their names on the ballot and run for their local city council or school board.

The time to do this started on Tuesday, Aug. 2 and runs until this coming Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m.

As of last week Thursday, there were a whole lot of empty spaces on the signup sheets.

Take school board, for example. Both the Blue Earth Area and United South Central school boards have four openings on the ballot. As of Thursday afternoon, only two incumbents had filed for the BEA board, and only one name, a newcomer, had filed at USC.

In Winnebago, no one had filed for the three open spots on the City Council or for the mayor position, until incumbent councilman Rick Johnson came in and filed right when we were checking with City Hall for an update.

In Blue Earth, three councilmen and the mayor have filed, but there is still one open spot for a two-year term on the council.

OK, I admit, it is way too early to panic. The filing period runs until Tuesday, after all. And a lot of people wait until the last day to throw their hat into the ring. I’m pretty sure they are waiting to see who else might file before they decide to go ahead and do it themselves.

But, there is also the possibility that some spots will remain blank on the ballot. In those cases, the positions will probably be filled by write-in voting, or perhaps by appointment by the council or board itself.

In these days of shrinking population in our little towns in Faribault County, it is getting tougher to find people willing to serve on their city council or school board.

Admittedly, it is not all that glamorous. It is a bit time-consuming, low paying and occasionally not much fun when faced with making a controversial decision.

I’m not making much of a sales pitch for running for office, am I?

Well, as a former city council member in a small town, I can say that I found the experience rewarding. It gave me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I had helped make decisions to make my small town a better place to live.

And, it was definitely educational. It gives a citizen an up close and personal look at how their local government works. In some cases, it can be a real eye opener.

If you have ever given a thought to serving on a local board or council, this might be your time to do it.

But you better hurry. The clock is ticking. You have until Tuesday at 5 p.m.

We will let you know in next week’s Faribault County Register who did file for each and every office in the county.