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  • Last modified 5 days ago (Nov. 7, 2019)

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Now the real politicking begins

Who wins and who loses an election sometimes is a lot less telling than how many candidates were on the ballot.

With three listed candidates and a fourth as a declared write-in, the county commission’s new 4th District stood in stark contrast on Election Day to the equally new 5th District, which had only one name on the ballot.

Every last city position in both Marion and Florence had competition, but other cities in the county had little if any.

Goessel had four people running for three council seats, and Lost Springs had six running for five, but only the minimum — or fewer — filed for all other city positions. In fact, Durham, Lehigh, Lincolnville, and Tampa had nothing but blank lines for write-ins on their ballots. Among school districts, only Centre had opposition, and that was for only two of four seats.

So what prompted all the competition in Marion, Florence, and the 4th District, which has been gerrymandered to include both those cities — except, of course, for the isolated north half of Marion?

Was it wind farms, gerrymandering, city administration, water sources, lake development, dissatisfaction with current representation, or something else that prompted so many candidates to file?

Does this mean everyone everywhere else in the county was so satisfied that no one challenged elected officials whose terms were expiring? Or does it mean people in those areas considered the positions so irrelevant that no one bothered to run?

If this week’s election is to mean anything, we as a community need to answer such questions and make sure whoever emerges victorious enters office with a goal of resolving problems, not creating them.

Too often in recent years, newly elected officials — both locally and nationally — have taken elections as mandates to become obstructionist figures who widen rather than heal whatever wounds led to their victory.

It’s easy to snipe. It’s far more difficult to govern. Governing means working with others of differing views to achieve compromise and cooperation. Problems aren’t solved by one side winning and the other losing. They’ve solved by both sides coming together to find acceptable middle ground.

Time will tell whether this week’s election solves problems or aggravates them — whether we waste taxpayer money on reversals, lawsuits, buyouts, and padded bureaucracies or spend that money wisely to address actual needs.

Just because our nation’s capitol can’t get its act together doesn’t mean Marion County has to be equally polarized and paralyzed.

Meanwhile, let’s take a moment the day after the election to thank all of those who demonstrated what it means to be an American by offering themselves as candidates or by taking time out of their day to cast their vote.

Our society isn’t run by the various “theys” who do this or that. It’s run by a singular “we.” And we should celebrate all who are willing to become part of “we” instead of simply sitting back and sniping at “they.”

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Nov. 7, 2019

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