Our thoughts Keep­ing hon­est peo­ple hon­est

The Covington News - - OPINION -

It is the height of po­lit­i­cal sea­son. You might riv­eted to your chair watch­ing the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion, shak­ing your head or cheer­ing, what­ever the case may be. On the other hand, you might be ea­gerly await­ing the Demo­crat Con­ven­tion. Per­haps you are do­ing both.

The po­lit­i­cal sea­son is still go­ing strong here lo­cally with the Pri­mary Elec­tion Runoff on Tues­day, July 26 that will de­cide the County Com­mis­sion Dis­trict 5 seat and the Demo­cratic can­di­date for County Chair.

We, at The Cov­ing­ton News, have used this space mul­ti­ple times in the past few months to urge vot­ers to get to the polls and ex­er­cise their right to vote. We have re­it­er­ated the call to ac­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­toral process. We be­lieve if you don’t par­tic­i­pate, you have no room to com­plain about “the state of things.”

This sea­son has seen his­tor­i­cally low voter turnout in the Pres­i­den­tial Pri­mary, the lo­cal pri­mary, and now the runoff, which is al­ready typ­i­cally a lower turnout than any other elec­tion.

The lo­cal pri­mary elec­tion in May started with 3 Com­mis­sion seats, Com­mis­sion Chair, Pro­bate Judge, Tax Com­mis­sioner, and Coroner as con­tested seats, some for the first time in years. There was seem­ingly a lot at stake in this elec­tion for our com­mu­nity. Now it has been nar­rowed down to two can­di­dates in two runoffs, both im­por­tant to the fu­ture of our com­mu­nity.

So why haven’t we seen record numbers of peo­ple who have got­ten out to vote? Our an­swer — ap­a­thy. Ap­a­thy can stem from be­liev­ing that it doesn’t di­rectly af­fect us. While our na­tional elec­tions war­rant much me­dia cov­er­age, we typ­i­cally pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to what is hap­pen­ing right next door or down the street. By do­ing so, we cre­ate walls that sep­a­rate us from own our com­mu­nity.

Ap­a­thy can also stem from be­ing dis­gusted with a process and giv­ing up on that process. Per­haps it is frus­tra­tion from in­ac­tion of elected of­fi­cials. Per­haps it is the ru­mor of mis­con­duct or mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion. Per­haps it is the no­tion that back door politics has re­placed trans­parency — or that such back door politics never went away.

In any case, we at The Cov­ing­ton News hope our com­mu­nity gains back its trust in our lo­cal of­fi­cials. The mis­trust is hurt­ing our com­mu­nity deeply.

Our lo­cal of­fi­cials are our neigh­bors. These are peo­ple we see at the gro­cery store or Friday night on the Square. These are peo­ple whose kids are in the same dance class or play on the same foot­ball team as our kids. Lo­cal elected of­fi­cials (as well as lo­cal po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates) are not un­touch­able or un­reach­able.

As we con­sider our na­tional can­di­dates, we do so with a crit­i­cal eye of some­one be­ing held apart. As we con­sider our lo­cal can­di­dates, yes, our eye should crit­i­cal but we should also lean to­wards ac­count­abil­ity. In short, we should keep hon­est peo­ple hon­est. If ru­mor spreads, and it es­pe­cially does so on so­cial me­dia, then fac­tual in­for­ma­tion gets lost in the sweep. Our elected of­fi­cials and our po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates are not above be­ing caught up in that.

But un­like the Trump and Clin­ton cam­paigns, our lo­cal elected of­fi­cials are also ac­ces­si­ble by and cul­pa­ble to each ci­ti­zen.

If you are part of the cur­rent elec­tion, ei­ther as a can­di­date or cam­paigner, do what you know is right. That is not al­ways the easy thing to do but, in the end, it will yield the best re­sults. It is time to stop play­ing games. It is time to stop pre­tend­ing that can­di­dates are not peo­ple, neigh­bors, and friends. It is time to stop pre­tend­ing that politics is one thing and life is an­other. It is time to stop play­ing by dif­fer­ent rules dur­ing elec­tion sea­son.

But note, the right thing is not al­ways the thing that gets you what you want. The right thing for our com­mu­nity looks dif­fer­ent for those who would dare lead that com­mu­nity. It is a higher call­ing, one that is not for most of us.

Our com­mu­nity is not with­out its faults — we write about them fre­quently on the pages of this news­pa­per. How­ever, if we focus on what we have in com­mon in­stead of our dif­fer­ences, we will find much more to talk about. If we trust in the demo­cratic elec­toral process of this coun­try, then we will have more true trans­parency and real gov­er­nance. If we dis­cuss solutions in­stead of point­ing fin­gers, we will earn more re­spect. If we hold each other ac­count­able, we will have much more suc­cess.

Then, our ap­a­thy would be­gin to lessen. We would once again see that elected of­fi­cial as our neigh­bor. And we would be stronger for it, no mat­ter the out­come of this elec­tion.

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