Thursday, Jan. 24 2013 5:35PM
Unopposed, uninterested, unlike our community
By John Beaudoin
I am going to do some raving on positive things in our community. I promise.
Just not today. Today is a rant.
I want to know where our active community participants may be hiding.
Sure, we have plenty of good, hearty Lee’s Summit-ites that participate daily in volunteering, on committees, driving meals around, helping downtown, in our schools and at our churches.
In fact, we’re probably ahead of the curve in our community in that regard.
But when it comes to running for office, we’re not doing so hot. In fact, we’re kind of bad at it.
Three different seats for our Lee’s Summit City Council have gone unopposed in the last few elections. Folks, that is just inexcusable.
Where are the leaders in this young, vibrant, family-oriented town?
Please don’t mistake this rant as a knock against those that waltzed in to office with nary a fight.
Councilmen Ed Cockrell, Bob Johnson and Allan Gray – while differing greatly on procedure, policy and about every other issue – are all good for this city council.
And, sure, each incumbent could have made a case for being the representative for his specific district.
But so could a challenger, if we had one.
Fortunately, we still force the democratic process of voting on the voters when we lack candidates on city ballots.
Unfortunately, the same is not true in school board elections.
The state has decided that our school districts can save money when there are not more candidates than open seats by simply forgoing the election.
And since everyone knows that the underlying basis of a free society with open elections is made better when saving money is chosen over voters going to the ballot box, right?
Surely, this cannot be what our Founding Fathers had in mind.
As a country, we set ourselves apart under the umbrella of free and open elections, that any qualified man or woman can appear on a ballot and win a seat representing the people.
From school board all the way to President of the United States.
It’s the former of those that seems to have lost some of its luster as of late.
I understand the inherent need to save money, especially at our schools these days.
But eliminating the school board elections takes away any possibility of a write-in campaign and, in reality, wipes out an important process that for centuries has been key to our system.
I have seen firsthand a write-in candidate get elected in a school board election in Iowa. It may be rare, but it happens. And taking away that possibility and putting our candidates to a vote of the people shouldn’t be a right that is stripped away from us for a financial gain.
Again, there is no disrespect to the candidates who put in the work to file for this office.
I seem to keep insisting to myself that this is hard to believe.
The problem is, over the last couple of years in Lee’s Summit, it isn’t.
And because elected seats are supposed to help foster ideas and ideals, we cannot as a community honestly say we are doing our best at that. Not right now.