The Park Record editorial, November 6-9, 2010
November 5, 2010
Thankfully, the political uproar has faded, most candidate signs have been collected and neighborhood civility has been restored. But some of the issues raised during the election should stay on the table.
Political newcomer Dax Shane’s bid to oust incumbent Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds gained a surprising amount of traction. One plank in his platform that seemed to resonate with voters targeted the aggressive traffic enforcement on State Route 224. According to Shane, in addition to unreasonable traffic stops, sheriff’s deputies were rude and intimidating to citizens.
Edmunds refuted those claims and went on to discredit those who supported them saying they were just people who were unhappy about getting tickets. But Shane’s strong showing in the election indicates there may be some truth to those criticisms.
Now that he has won reelection, Edmunds should step back from his defensive posture during the campaign and review those complaints. He would be wise to set up a citizen panel in order to solicit input in a less political setting. That would likely go a long way toward solidifying support for the sheriff’s department throughout the community.
Another issue that stirred up voters’ ire was the county’s budget deficit. While it may have been unfair to hurl criticism at only two of five council members and hold them responsible for the previous commission’s actions — we hope that the county council members who regained their seats on Election Day will remember their promises to improve the financial reporting systems at the courthouse and will continue to find ways to trim the budget.
Finally, we hope that another inadvertent lesson learned from this election will continue to be debated long before the next candidate filing deadlines. That is: Is partisan politics appropriate at the county level?
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Case in point: KayCee Simpson, who filed for a county council seat on the Democratic ticket, essentially bailed out before the campaign began. He did not participate in any of the candidate forums and he did not spend a cent to inform voters about his background or his positions. Shockingly, he still received 4,372 (40.54 percent of the) votes cast in that race.
Presumably some of those votes came from straight party ballots; others were cast solely because his name was associated with the Democratic Party. Some may also have been protest votes from those who just wanted Simpson’s opponent, Dave Ure, out of office.
Sadly, those who voted for Simpson did not care about his credentials for holding public office or his viewpoints on important county issues or even that he didn’t care enough to participate in the campaign process. In fact, if voters in Highland Estates, Pinebrook, Summit Park, Prospector and Old Town had their way, Simpson based solely on putting his name in the hat — would have been elected. Our guess is that Simpson would have been as surprised as anyone if that had happened.
Simpson no doubt realized early on that he did not want to serve on the county council and figured that message would be clear if he did not campaign. Unfortunately, citizens blinded by party labels voted for him anyway and in our view that is a perfect example of why partisan politics has no place at the county level.