Candidates, officials should be informed!
I don’t recall the city ever not having an election for lack of candidates. I think this year is a first.
The school board, yeah. But never the city.
So, what we have is two races for the school board – two candidates each.
We were within 30 minutes of not having a Candidates’ Night, but the final confirmation slid into home just in time to save the day.
This will be the shortest Candidates’ Night in the 26 years I’ve moderated (and this is the 37th annual Candidates’ Night sponsored by the South Jetty).
Out of the two school board races, only one will be “live” at Candidates’ Night.
Rita Reed, incumbent in Place 5, has an unavoidable family conflict, so she and her opponent, Kelly Owens, have responded to questions I posed to them in writing. Their responses will be published along with the “live” responses from Rick Adams, incumbent in Place 6, and his opponent, Tanya Chambers, in the May 5 edition of the South Jetty. (Candidates’ Night is scheduled for Thursday, April 29.)
When it looked like there would be no Candidates’ Night, I was thrilled and disappointed.
Thrilled, because it is one of the, if not the, most stressful part of my job; disappointed because, really, without Candidates’ Night, issues don’t get the public airing they should.
The South Jetty does everything it can to shed light on the candidates for voters. We offer them free statements announcing their candidacy in which they can tout their qualifications. Of course, candidates have the option of advertising. If they put that to good use, issues can be brought out. It’s also important for candidates to let voters know they are serious about public service and make the effort to “close the sale” by asking voters for their vote.
The South Jetty also sponsors Candidates’ Night, a voter education forum for candidates in contested races. In addition to being open to the public, the forum is broadcast on the public access cable television channel, and full coverage is provided in the print and online editions of the South Jetty.
There’s not much excuse, other than laziness, for voters in this town not to be well educated when it comes to local elections.
By the same token, voters should require that candidates be well educated.
So, it amazes me when candidates who want to go to the trouble to serve as a member of the city council or school board show their ignorance of local issues and/or events that, had they read the South Jetty, or attended a city council or school board meeting, they would have known about.
It is even more amazing when elected officials show off their ignorance in public meetings because they have obviously not read the South Jetty (or their agenda packets, for that matter). It would take more patience than I have to be a city manager or school superintendent not to say, ‘If you’d read the South Jetty/ agenda packet, you’d know the answer to the question you just took up my time, and everyone else’s time, to ask.”
Being a member of the city council or school board is not about popularity. It’s about taking the time (away from family, friends, work, recreational and social pursuits), learning about the issues, attending meetings, asking questions, reading volumes of background information and making on-site visits. It ain’t no cakewalk, people.
With all the available information, voters have no excuse for casting an uneducated vote.
And candidates have no excuse for not being well educated.
Mary Henkel Judson is editor and copublisher of the South Jetty. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, (361) 749-5131 or P.O. Box 1117, Port Aransas, TX 78373.