While the presidential campaign has been running hot for months, local and statewide races are just warming up.
Filings for state and local elected offices open May 16 and close May 20, and so now is the time for anyone interested in joining the political fray to do their research and make a plan to go for it.
We hope, for the sake of our beloved democratic process, that voters are given worthy choices this election season. Even if incumbents are doing a terrific job, we still would like to see them mount a meaningful campaign. Facing a challenger helps ensure they do that.
Campaigning means incumbents are more likely to talk to constituents. They have to defend their past decisions and go on record on positions they could take in the future. That’s the best kind of job evaluation there is for a politician.
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But when incumbents run unopposed, they get a free pass and job security without any scrutiny. That’s not how our political system should operate.
That is not to say we are hoping for a change in any particular race. It is simply that elections should put a spotlight on issues. Without opposition, incumbents can get off too easy and avoid discussing them publicly.
In the Tri-City area, there are many significant and high profile elected offices up for re-election. They include two county commission seats in Benton County and two county commission seats in Franklin County. There are also seven Benton Franklin Superior Court judge positions to be decided this election.
As far as representation at the state level, one of the more notable races will be the vacant House seat made available by state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place. She recently announced her decision to run for the seat vacated by retiring state Sen. Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla.
Walsh’s seat covers the 16th Legislative District, which includes Walla Walla County, Prosser, Benton City, Finley and Dayton. This move means her seat is now wide open, which is always a good way for someone new to the political game to get involved.
In addition to Walsh’s open seat, there are several state House and Senate seats up for grabs on both sides of the river. And if anyone has loftier political goals, there are state offices and federal positions up for vote this election.
Filing can be done online or in person at the auditor’s offices in Benton and Franklin counties during filing week. The state Secretary of State’s office offers help for people through the process on its website: bit.ly/filinghelp.
This site offers tips on how to file and what campaign rules must be followed. We would encourage anyone who wants to run for office to take a look at it first.
Our government is designed so that people have a say in how they are governed. That power wanes, however, when citizens don’t participate.