Our thoughts Keeping honest people honest
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.