More participation needed in local elections

Published 6:48 am Friday, July 24, 2020

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Qualifying for local elections ended this week, and on Aug. 25 Chambers County residents will go to the polls to elect new officials in 24 seats between LaFayette, Lanett and Valley.

Unfortunately, most of these races are uncontested, meaning voters won’t have a chance to have a say in who gets elected.

In LaFayette, all districts on the city council are on the ballot. Four of those races are uncontested. One of the rare exceptions to all of the uncontested races is the LaFayette’s mayor’s race, which will be hotly contested with Brandon Brooks, Anna Troxell and Kenneth Vines facing off against incumbent Barry Moody.

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In Lanett, Mayor Kyle McCoy will face competition from Stanley Roberts. Unfortunately, three of the five Lanett City Council seats have no opposition.

The selection is even lighter in Valley where five of the seven seats are unopposed. The unopposed candidates for the council and mayor positions have already been declared winners.

The Chambers County School Board won’t change at all, as none of the current board members will face opposition. Fair or not, the school system as a whole is one of the most discussed topics in Chambers County, and there are no choices on the ballot box. 

All of these uncontested races are a bad thing for our community. Don’t get us wrong, as we don’t mean that as any sweeping judgement on the job incumbents are doing.

But the truth is, we see posts floating around social media and, in our comments, questioning various issues throughout the county frequently.

That doesn’t necessarily anything is being done wrong, but it does show that people have questions about why decisions are made the way they are.  We think it would serve the community better to hear more voices, with possible new ideas to move our community forward.

Contested elections give the public choices and force candidates to counter ideas that their opponents push forward. They prevent apathy, where a candidate can just sit still, do nothing and continue getting re-elected.

We understand that public service requires a tremendous time commitment and that largely plays a role in the lack of participation. This lack of participation also lends its hands to the lack of voter turnout which is a problem everywhere.

You could make a good argument that the lack of candidates speaks to the way most in our community feel about the progress made in Chambers County over the last four years. Maybe the majority of people are happy with the way things are. If that’s the case, then great.

We applaud all of the candidates in this upcoming election, incumbents included, who took the courageous step to run for public office again.

We just wish there were more of them.