Of the dozens of seats up for grabs on a variety of special district boards in Park County, only two races in Meeteetse are lacking the necessary number of candidates to bring boards to full strength …
Of the dozens of seats up for grabs on a variety of special district boards in Park County, only two races in Meeteetse are lacking the necessary number of candidates to bring boards to full strength come January.
It’s a good sign that, in this county, residents are stepping up to be part of the political process.
More than just enough, many of these races will actually feature a competition for the seat ahead of the general election, which is how democracy really shines in the election process. While there are candidates in the area who will attend forums or respond to questions even when running unopposed, competition only helps with getting candidates out in the community to give potential voters the opportunity to really know who they are voting for. Often, election season provides the most opportunity for constituents to actually talk to and listen to the legislator or board member who will be representing them.
All that being said, it was worrying to see the lack of people filing in the Powell Hospital District, until five challengers filed on the final day to turn a problem of only two candidates for four seats into a robust race with seven candidates. (The incumbent filed to finish off a separate unexpired two-year term)
The race for the four available seats on the Park County School District 1 board promises to reveal much about all of the candidates as well with 11 in the running. That’s a big boost from most recent elections. While there were nine candidates for three seats in 2012, the two election years before that, in 2008 and 2010, there were only enough candidates to fill the open seats. The same was the case in the two election years after, and since then there have been hardly any more challengers than available seats.
Already at least one group, Sons of Freedom, has scheduled a forum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Commons downtown for all 11 of the school board candidates, and plans to do the same in Cody. President of the group, Andris Vaskis, said they’ve looked at doing other forums as well this fall. While state level races may garner more attention, special district board members often make more of an impact in the local community than most other elected officials.
Even the Park County Commissioners race is not a done deal, with Libertarian candidate and former Park County Sheriff’s Office undersheriff Thomas Ehlers, Jr. filing to run. He may bring up new issues the crop of Republican primary opponents hadn’t, and therefore shed even more light on what the candidates see for the future of the county.
Two of the Powell Fire District’s three open director seats are even being contested, which should mean that whoever wins the seat is actually the best one to take it.
Certainly, an uncontested race does not mean the lone candidate won’t do a good job, but contested races are more in line with the spirit of civics in this country. For many of the most important positions in the Powell area, that spirit looks like it will be upheld.