Wanted: More candidates

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So many intelligent, talented people.

Yet so few willing to offer their intelligence and talents to help others.

Bedford County's general election is less than a month away. And, once again, the ballot is filled with unopposed candidates, many incumbents.

Two incumbent school board members are running unopposed. A third school board seat, being vacated by outgoing school board chair Barry Cooper, has only one qualified candidate. A fourth seat, being vacated by Leonard Singleton, has no qualified candidates on the ballot at all, although there is now a write-in candidate for the seat. (In Tennessee, write-in candidates must notify the county election office in order to have their votes counted.)

All nine county road board seats are up for election, and none are contested. Seven have unopposed incumbents, one an unopposed newcomer, and one has no candidates at all.

Assessor of Property Ronda Clanton and Road Superintendent Stanley Smotherman were unopposed in the Democratic Primary earlier in the year and will be unopposed on the general election ballot.

Bedford County School Board members, and other officials, make major decisions and are in high-profile positions. For those elected, it's a chance to make lasting differences.

Letters to the editor and calls to radio talk shows indicate there are no lack of people with opinions, and who want change. Yet so few people are willing to take the next step -- go beyond just voting, and seek public office themselves.

Our comment about "unopposed incumbents" is not meant in any way to imply that we think others need to hold those offices. Rather, we wonder why no one else apparently wants to hold them. Apathy? Laziness? Fear of public criticism?

There's a world beyond talk shows, Facebook and internet forums -- a world which includes face-to-face contact and working together as a group to solve problems. Yes, running for and holding an office may mean undergoing criticism and/or stepping out of one's comfort zone.

But the benefits -- both for those seeking office and for the community at large -- are incalculable.

And, even if you choose not to seek office, at least attend meetings. Make your views known. This editorial page is a perfect place to do so.

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