A beacon of democracy

Published 11:41 pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

What happens when we run out of elected officials who are willing to take responsibility for the decisions that affect us all? What happens when no one steps forward with a civic-minded bent to help shape the policies we live by?
For the first time in some long memories at the Beaufort County Board of Elections, no one was waiting to declare a run for municipal office when the filing period opened at noon on Friday. Not a single person was chomping at the bit to state their intention to win a mayor’s seat, or those on various city councils around the county.
There are 30 elected positions up for grabs in the November election: in Aurora, mayor and two commissioners’ seats; in Bath, two commissioners; in Belhaven, mayor and three aldermen; in Pantego, mayor and five commissioners; in Washington, mayor and five councilmen; and in Washington Park, the mayor and five commissioners. That’s a lot of seats to fill.
By 5 p.m. on Friday, only three people had shown up to file paperwork at the BOE: Jimmy Mobley, long-term Mayor of Chocowinity; and Gil Davis and Lloyd May, both of whom will be running for Washington City Council.
Perhaps the fact that only these three people showed up to throw their hats into their prospective rings means nothing. It was, after all, the day after a national holiday.
But what if it does, in fact, mean something? Just look at the dismal voter-turnout numbers and you’ll see an apathetic electorate.
What if no one has the time, or the energy, to put themselves forward anymore? What if, content to naysay, criticize and second-guess the decision makers, nobody cares enough to actually take part in our local democracies?
Often it seems that people look askance at those with strong views and good ideas that could bring about needed change.
A democracy requires people who are passionate enough about the wellbeing of their community to run for office, to do the work and make the decisions. Equally, it requires people to be passionate enough about who’s making the decisions to get out of the house and vote.
Someone’s got to care enough to light the beacon of democracy.