Friday, October 23

Johnson County: Let Voters Fill in the Blank

There is no good way to say this, but Johnson County, we have a problem. When Larry Meyers passed away after his long battle with cancer, he inconveniently did it with nine months before the next Board of Supervisor's primary. But wait, the special commission that is made up of elected leaders (read: Democrats)decided not to hold a special election citing the cost of holding the special election is not worth the 11 months the person would actually hold the seat and invite people to apply for the job.

With an applicant pool that turned up sixteen potential candidates of various political persuasions, that is a heck of a lot more than usually run for the office if the normal campaign rules applied. The special commission then magically whittled down the field to eight (perhaps using the irrefutable "eenie-meenie-minie-moe" method?).

Now the special commission is going to select that special somebody to fill the seat by next Friday. If people don't like the commissions choice, they have two weeks to turn up about 7,000 people's signatures who are qualified to vote and call for a special election. And here's the thing--someone is going to object because it is likely that the kinds of people who want a special election have a history of being soundly trounced when they occur.

All frivolity aside, we have elections that turn out less than 5% of the public out and, yet we still have those elections. Is it fair for three people to decide who will be the potentially tie breaking vote on the BOS for even 11 months? No. Would it be nice to combine the special election with the regular election and elect someone for one term and 11 months? Yes, but it violates state election laws.

Because I value transparency in elective government, I believe that we need to suck it up and have a special election. Doing so has a financial cost, but to not do so has a higher cost--the suspicion that democracy is being usurped or, more simply, we are being cheated.

Do I believe that it will change the dynamics of the county government? No. I suspect a Democrat would be elected based on the usual voting patterns of the county. But do I think that all Democrats (or Republicans) are the same? No. I'd like the choice to vote for the person I feel is best qualified. One of the reasons I voted for Larry was he was part of a group of people who said "Don't Tread on Me" when they felt they didn't have the BOS's ear. Well guess what--our elected officials are treading on us again.

No matter who the commission selects, I hope people will support a special election. Democracy is a good thing.

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