February 18, 2014

Open seats could draw interest in commissioners’ races

The Daily Citizen

— Look for changes next year on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners Gordon Morehouse and Robby Staten have each said recently that they will not seek re-election this year. Each will step down at the end of this year after serving one term.

Both men said they are not sure they will still be living in their districts during the next four years and do not believe it would be fair to seek election with that possibility. Morehouse represents District 1, which is essentially the southeast part of Whitfield County, while Staten represents District 3, which is the northwest part of the county.

Both men have served the county capably. And we hope that those who take their places on the board will show at least as much devotion to their duties as Morehouse and Staten did.

Those who are considering running for those seats must make a decision soon. Qualifying for the Democratic and Republican primaries is March 3 to March 7, and the primaries will be held on May 20, about two months earlier than they have been in the past.

Unfortunately, we may not see many county residents decide to run. Excluding some long-time incumbents such as Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood, northwest Georgia sees precious few names on the Democratic side of the ballot in general elections, and we can’t recall the last time we saw an independent or third party candidate run for a local office.

That means that, all too often, the candidates who do run aren’t forced to really work for votes. They aren’t forced to defend their positions or debate the issues, and voters leave the ballot box feeling as if their votes don’t really count.

Even in the primaries, voters often find themselves without any serious choices. They deserve better. And perhaps the allure of two open seats on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners will be strong enough to break the apathy we see too often in local races. Maybe this can bring several serious candidates to run in the primaries of both major parties.

So if you are thinking about running for the Board of Commissioners, we encourage you to step forward.