In recent weeks the Press has gotten a fair amount of criticism for our coverage of candidates seeking office in the county.
As a response to some of the hecklers, let me start by pointing out that there are more than 100 candidates on the Aug. 5 ballot. So in reality writing an exhaustive account of each politico’s credentials is not feasible for the 2.5 people that make up our news team.
But setting the issue of manpower aside, shouldn’t the candidates be responsible for selling their platforms to the voters? After all as a newspaper we are only the messenger.
And in all fairness, we have provided those stumping for a spot in state and local government ample opportunity to state their case for free, yes I did say free, in the paper.
During the first week of June identical questionnaires were mailed to each candidate with a return date set for June 18.
Well, that date came and went and although it was explained that responses to the questionnaire along with a picture of the candidate would run in the July 8 and July 15 editions of the Press nearly half of those running, 49 candidates to be exact, failed to return a response.
In the spirit of having as much participation possible, Susan Sharp and Natasha Colbaugh took to the phones to offer a second chance for candidates to address the voters in black and white.
Sadly, out of the 49 candidates contacted only 13 took the time to complete the simple questionnaire. Now I’m no math whiz, but that is less than half.
It is disappointing that so many candidates would not take a few minutes to give the public some insight into why they are qualified and the plans they have for their respective offices. But what astonishes me more is the condescension expressed by some of the political hopefuls.
One sitting commissioner seeking re-election informed a Press staffer when he got his reminder call that he had been at this for 12 years and the questionnaire was more for someone just starting out.
Does he think no new residents have moved into his district in the last 12 years? Or even worse, does he presume that because he has more than a decade of service under his belt he has the race sewn up?
With crime at an all time high and money at an all time low it seems that of all the candidates needing to provide a response to questions about how they plan to improve the community, those who are currently in office should be the first to go on the record about what hasn’t worked and how they plan to fix it.
Despite the large number of candidates vying for crucial spots Scott Kitts, a prominent contestant in the county mayor’s race, sitting county mayor William Baird, Mark Pack, who is on the ballot for sheriff and DeWayne Gibson, who is running for county clerk, chose not to return their questionnaires. But they are not alone.
A large number of the candidates seeking a spot on the county commission failed to make their thoughts known as well.
So when you pick up the Press on July 8 and 15 to find out what these potential leaders of our county have to say, perhaps it is as important to note which candidates are missing from these pages as it is to read the responses of those who took the time to respond. In my opinion their silence speaks volumes.