Time for substance
Now that the 2016 Primary Election has come and gone, you can almost feel the sigh of relief that has been let go.
It has been a whirlwind few months and an even more frantic couple weeks as competing candidates tried to get endorsements, press coverage and, ultimately, votes. Presidential candidates like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, along with surrogates such as former President Bill Clinton standing in for his wife, Hillary, have brought the message directly to Marylanders trying to sway voters as they chase all-important national convention delegates.
Locally, while we have certainly spent a good amount of time covering the public moves of candidates for county executive, county council and board of education, the public consciousness hasn’t been as great.
Despite frequent coverage over the first three months of the year, many were still telling us that the public didn’t understand that the Republican primary determined both open Cecil County Council seats. Some Democrats who head to polls in November will be disappointed to find that they have no candidate to put forward to those offices. Other unaffiliated voters said they were not aware that they could have participated in the non-partisan board of education races.
Unfortunately, voters have a responsibility to stay informed, understand what’s at stake and learn about the candidates in the running.
The short timeframe for the primary election certainly didn’t help, as candidates had until early February to file with the election just weeks away at that point. The result was that the primary election felt more like a mad dash than a drawn-out affair. That many of the candidates on Tuesday’s ballot waited until the last few days to file, shortening the amount of time that voters had to get to know them, also exacerbated the problem.
At recent forums, candidates fielded questions about positions and always responded. But we couldn’t help but feel like we were just skimming the bare surface of who these candidates were.
Sure they support the Second Amendment, but what would they do as a county council member to further the rights of local firearm owners?
Of course they don’t support higher taxes — even a Democrat wouldn’t openly admit to that — but what would they do to ensure new revenue is being produced for the county? What could they do without in order to cut expenses?
We don’t doubt that they all support happy, healthy pets, but how would they specifically address animal care and control in Cecil County?
One of the things we’ve been most frustrated with at the national level during this election cycle is the lack of any real Trump, the Republican frontrunner, has spent more time talking about his huge crowds and opponents than he has about anything he plans to do as president. He has repeatedly talked about how he will build a wall separating America from Mexico, but when he’s pressed on how he would make that happen, he falls silent.
What we can do here at home, however, is produce substantive discourse about how our leaders intend to move Cecil County forward, how we can improve our financial position and how we can ensure that all residents and business owners have the best opportunity to succeed as possible.
We congratulate the winners of Tuesday’s primaries and hope that they will help to inform voters over the next six months so that when voters return to polls in November, they will be as informed as possible.