Lack of candidates, elections, a bad signal

January 25, 2013 

When we talk about political processes, governing and other matters of the like, our Founding Fathers’ opinions and beliefs are often easily tossed into the conversation.

We discuss our framers’ thoughts and ambitions as if we know exactly what they would have done in our modern-day quandaries – topics like gun control, abortion, taxes and other political affairs.

The truth is, those great men set policy based on their times and, we hope, with an eye to our future as a country.

And while comparing many of today’s issues to how yesterday’s leaders would have handled them is a bit unfair, I will invoke the memories and presumptions of Founding Fathers in one particular area – elections.

As a country, we set ourselves apart under the umbrella of free and open elections, that any qualified man or woman can appear on a ballot and win a seat representing the people.

From school board all the way to President of the United States.

It’s the former of those that seems to have lost some of its luster as of late.

In Cass County, we have four school districts – Archie, Belton, East Lynne and Strasburg – that will not have candidates appear on the ballot for school board this April.

That’s because a state law allows districts with the same number of candidates to open seats to skip an election.

And while this rule has been in place for a few years, that doesn’t lessen the blow.

Trying to save a few dollars while not holding open elections cannot be what we are about as a democracy.

I understand the inherent need to save money, especially at our schools these days.

But eliminating the school board elections takes away any possibility of a write-in campaign and, in reality, wipes out an important process that for centuries has been key to our system.

I have seen firsthand a write-in candidate get elected in a school board election in Iowa. It may be rare, but it happens. And taking away that possibility and putting our candidates to a vote of the people shouldn’t be a right that is stripped away from us for a financial gain.

It’s too bad these communities couldn’t find enough candidates to hold an election for important school board seats.

It’s much more of a mockery to our election system to forgo the vote altogether.

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