I suspect that I’m not the only one glad to say goodbye to this blue moon election! Every 12 years we have one of these blue moon elections, meaning that there is no race for the White House, Governor’s Mansion, or U.S. Senate to generate the kind of excitement that they say brings voters to the polls.
No excitement? I guess it depends on what you call excitement. Personally, I could do without that brand of excitement like they had in Durham with the DA race, or the venomous 13th Congressional District race with Vernon Robinson, or even the school bond issue in Wake County.
We had our own brand in excitement in our Superior Court race. Here were four people that everyone I talked to said would all serve us well because they were all capable and competent. Two had been appointed to the Superior Court by the Governor, one was a District Court judge, and the fourth is a practicing attorney who formed the first integrated law firm in North Carolina.
To get their message out they bombarded us with glossy card mailings, robo calls, yard signs, and campaign ads, all to generate name recognition. As a group, it looks like they spent more than $350,000 on their campaigns. Is money the ultimate arbitrator in local politics today? Well, it appears that number one vote getter Carl Fox spent the least amount of money.
Philosophically, I’m still not sure that I believe that we should make judge candidates raise money and campaign like other office seekers. Maybe we should make all of these races eligible for tax dollar funding. I think the idea should be given a good look.
Our House race was a barnburner too, wasn’t it? How many people watched the two candidates discuss their visions for the future? If dissolving the Congress and starting from scratch was on the ballot, it might have won. Why? It seems that, at best, people are pretty fed up with the institution, and at worst, thoroughly hostile towards it. Some incumbents in other places lost their seats, but David Price didn’t and will be part of the House majority in January. Let’s hope they can get the institution back on track.
Then there was the Orange County Board of County Commissioners race. On the Democrat side, there were three candidates for three seats, and two of them were incumbents. On the Republican side, there was one candidate. Some believed that a Republican could win in Orange County if a significant number of traditional Democrat voters joined with the Republicans and the unaffiliated.
Driving this was anger with Mike Nelson due to some of his actions while the mayor of Carrboro. Nelson finished third with 27% of the vote. I suspect that he benefited greatly from straight ticket voting but he won in the northern precincts where Republican Jamie Daniels did well in 2004.
Probably the most heat was generated by the referendum to change how we elect commissioners. The consensus seemed to be that moving from five to seven commissioners was a very good thing. The controversy was over the two electoral districts that the voters were asked to approve. It seemed that even the commissioners themselves weren’t overly excited with the plan that they crafted, but they pushed it as a forward step in the right direction. I hope that they take some more concrete steps to make our process better.
What wasn’t exciting in this election was the turnout. In this community, with fewer than 37% of those registered voting, we have nothing to be proud of. Why was it so pitiful? Don’t people care? Sure it rained, but remember all of the beautiful days we had during the early voting period? We can and must do better!
So is it just an excuse or did some people not vote because of more concrete factors? Is not voting a protest? Is not voting a statement of contentment? Some who don’t vote claim that they don’t know the candidates or the issues. Maybe it’s a good thing that they refrain. But why do so few citizens exercise their right, a right that so many fought for and even died for?
Well, I congratulate Weaver Dairy Satellite for their typical outstanding turnout (81.6%) and hope that the two precincts with the lowest turnout — Country Club and Mason Farm will benefit next time from more UNC student activism.
Congratulations also to all the winners and those many candidates who ran fair, honest, and inexpensive campaigns. I applaud you for seeking to serve us. For those folks who didn’t vote, remember, politicians read the winds. If your vote doesn’t stir the winds, there will be less accountability. Accountability generates excitement. Accountability is a good thing.