Time for local office candidates to identify themselves
By Gene Kemmeter
The November election just ended early last month. And guess what? It’s time for another election.
The 2019 elections shouldn’t be like the bruising, name-calling elections on the national and state levels when television viewers and radio listeners are bombarded with ads touting questionable attributes of the candidates.
This election is a lifeblood to democracy. Voters will fill offices at the local level, those who run towns, villages, school districts and cities. This is the time of year when local residents declare their candidacies or circulate nomination papers for positions in local government. Every year there are local offices to fill, and 2019 is more of an off-year election, with fewer offices to fill. That doesn’t make it any less important.
Not every local office is subject to the circulation of nomination papers, but residents of those municipalities that require it may do so beginning Saturday, Dec. 1, and then file those papers before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2. Many smaller municipalities will hold a caucus to nominate candidates for office.
Nomination papers are available at local clerks’ offices now and must be returned by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2. A primary election, if necessary, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19, and the spring election will be Tuesday, April 2.
The only statewide office on the April ballot is for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Portage County voters will also pick a candidate for the District 4 Court of Appeals. Voters will elect alderpersons in the odd-numbered wards in Stevens Point, plus a mayor and a city clerk. Villages and some towns will select board members. School districts will elect board members.
Local government is more vital to residents because local officials deal with local situations, even though they have to carry out the decrees handed down by the state and nation. Local officials are mostly those who hold full-time jobs and spend their free time serving the public.
Local officials are true public servants dedicated to serving the public. They are the ones who receive complaints when the roads don’t get plowed and then have to balance budgets that might result in cutting local services because state and national items get priority. They aren’t millionaires or well-to-do people – there’s no money in it so they won’t get rich from it.
Local officials are neighbors who listen to suggestions about ways to handle a situation or address a need, then act to rectify a dilemma, trying to reach a compromise. They deserve thanks and appreciation for performing in a low-paying position that sometimes involves more hours than a full-time job.
Voters need to encourage more people to seek office, to get involved with the community. For communities to thrive, young people need to step up and run along with more experienced members and work to achieve balance and continuity. Don’t count out retired members of the community who possess a wealth of knowledge and often the time to research issues.
While local offices may seem secondary in importance, they are vital to continued operation of government in the nation. They are our neighbors, the representatives that are on the closest level to citizens.