Why are you running for office?
“Boy, that’s a good question. I’ll have to think about that one,” is a response that I have gotten back on multiple occasions over the years interviewing candidates.
At that point, I am usually thinking, “I really hope this person doesn’t get elected!” If I am doing the interview over the phone, I am usually shaking my head about now and looking for the bottle of Advil on my desk.
We periodically get some real doozies running for office. Fortunately, those folks are the exception rather than the rule. Thank goodness.
As I write this column before the results of Tuesday’s election start pouring in, I thought now might be a good time to thank all of our candidates for local office, who filed to run for election this year.
While plenty of bad things typically get said about our presidential candidates in particular (much of it well-deserved in both cases), I don’t think that our local candidates for office get the credit they deserve most of the time.
Local officials like city council members, city commission members and school board members don’t make a lot of money. It isn’t a job that you are going to get rich doing. Truth be told, by the time they get done sponsoring this and that, many of our elected officials probably end up spending more money than they make holding public office.
Most of the people locally, who put their names on the ballot, are typically doing so for the right reason. They want to make their communities a better place to live.
It takes a lot of time, money, sweat and tears to run for office, and I would like to personally thank all of our candidates, who had the guts to put their names on a ballot this year. I commend you all for your efforts to make our area better.
The bottom line is we have some very good candidates this year in all of our locally contested races in Whitley County. We have business people, educators, police officers and even a newspaper publisher, who shall remain nameless…LOL.
If elected, I think nearly every one of these candidates would do an excellent job, and I can assure you that I can’t say that with a straight face during every election we have had.
Let me also say kudos to all the candidates that answered our recent election questionnaire. The results appeared in last week’s paper.
Out of the 19 candidates, who we sent questionnaires, 18 of them provided answers to our questions.
Overwhelmingly, most of the responses were very well thought out and thorough, and I would like to thank all of these candidates for taking the time to answer our questions and help inform voters about the issues.
While I would generally praise our local candidates this election cycle, many also deserve to be called out on something.
The Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce organized two election forums. In October, they held a forum in Williamsburg, inviting state representative candidates, and candidates for Williamsburg City Council and Williamsburg school board.
Out of the 12 candidates invited to this forum, only three bothered to show up, 82nd Rep. Regina Bunch, Williamsburg City Councilwoman Mary Ann Stanfill and Ed McGrath, a candidate for Williamsburg school board.
The Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also organized a election forum this past Wednesday in Corbin where state representative and Corbin City Commission candidates were invited to speak.
Out of the nine candidates invited, only three showed up to speak, including Bunch, her opponent, Bill Conn, and our Publisher Trent Knuckles, who is also the chamber president and is a candidate for Corbin City Commission. (You can see coverage of this event on our website, www.thenewsjournal.net.)
At each forum, the candidates in attendance were introduced, walked up to the podium, spoke for a few minutes and sat down. It wasn’t anything complicated.
All five of these candidates did a good job speaking, but I have to take issue with all the candidates who didn’t attend the forums. Yes, some of you had a good excuse for not showing up, but I seriously doubt that all of you did.
When the organization that represents our business community sponsors an election forum, it’s embarrassing when three-quarters to two-thirds of the candidates don’t show up.
It reflects poorly on our community folks.
There might not have been huge crowds at either forum, but I’m pretty sure that those, who were in attendance, probably got asked about it and how they thought the candidates did. I know I did. I am also pretty sure that the answers those folks got probably swayed a few voters.