Our Turn: Donkeys, elephants, monkeys and weasels, are you playing political musical chairs?
I just wrapped up coverage of the League of Women Voters Douglas County commissioner candidate forum. It took forever.
Ten candidates vying for five seats, sharing their views on queries from the public. That's a lot of information to process, which makes me wonder:
How much information do we retain, how many voters are really informed?
We all have lives to live every day, lives that are affected by our local laws and government. A lot of us work more than one job and with that have more taxes to pay. Many of you have children to raise or elderly parents to care for and we all try to fit a little sanity into our chaotic schedules. When election year rolls around are we supposed to take time out to decide the future of the nation to-boot? Yes.
The title of my article was "Five questions, five seats, 10 hopefuls." The mind is an amazing thing and mine painted a picture of five chairs and five pairs of candidates standing around each seat. Then the music starts, "Round and round the mulberry bush..." and they circle the chairs, as the audience cheers them on until the music stops and the candidates show how much they really want the job by using any means necessary - pushing, tripping, pulling the chair out from the other - to claim the seat of power.
Childish? No, I'm not saying the forum was juvenile. Contrary, many good points were made and the incumbents and challengers were really candid in their answers, unlike the weasels and monkeys we see so routinely on MSNBC and CNN. What I'm saying is through all the campaigning, sometimes messages are lost and being able to see a person's motive for running for office is hard to grasp.
If we don't educate ourselves on our options, the candidates may as well be playing musical chairs.
On Election Day we go into a little booth, or in two of the elections in which I've voted, open our absentee ballot, and make our mark next to our chosen leaders. The focus is always at the top of the ticket, on the people who are furthest removed from our local communities. During the past year that I've covered county government, I have gained an appreciation for local politics and those who are brave enough to become a face for the districts in Douglas County.
During the forum, candidates agreed that most people don't know the duties of a county commissioner. One proposed resolution was holding more town-hall style meetings that could clarify what commissioners are able to do to help the cities and townships within their jurisdiction. It might also thread together citizens, communities, districts and ultimately, the county.
When I moved home to Minnesota last year from the East Coast, there was a moment where I swear I felt life slow down. These people get it, they understand the infrastructure of our state and more than that they care about the people, their neighbors.
That's who we should be voting for behind the curtain, because one day their name may be the one at the top of the ticket and when that finally happens, I will know that our nation is as great as my grandparents remembered.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.