Lack of candidates? It’s up to the citizens

August 28, 2010 05:00 am

Think you can do better than those currently elected to the Brookings City Council? Want a shot at deciding key issues facing this fine city of ours?

Well tough. Your window of opportunity has closed. The deadline to file for three city council positions ended last Tuesday. Three incumbents – Larry Anderson, Jake Pieper and Ron Hedenskog – were the only people to file.

Yes, citizens may have the opportunity to cast write-in votes, but that is a long shot for any such candidates running against incumbents.

A dearth of candidates is not new for the Brookings City Council. In 2008, only one person – Anderson – filed for one of three open city council positions. The remaining two positions were filled by Dave Gordon and Dave Kitchen by write-in votes.

The big question about the dearth of candidates is, why?

Is it because there’s no pay involved? (The positions are strictly volunteer.)

Perhaps people are too busy, working two jobs to make ends meet, or looking for a job, raising families, caring for elderly parents, or enjoying the fruits of retirement.

Perhaps most people think the incumbents are doing a good job. (It’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?)

The lack of competition concerns us. For example,  what is the impact of having little or no choice in candidates on voter participation or civic involvement? Will voters dissatisfied with the incumbents withhold their votes or cast write-in ballots?

We can stand on our soapbox and preach about the importance of having choices when voting for elected officials, but it really depends on citizens.

Brookings has its fair share of people with strong opinions about their city. It seems only natural it would also have its fair share of people willing to jump into the political ring.

While the opportunity to run for Brookings City Council this year has passed, more opportunities will come. So get out there. Get involved. Give us a choice.