Our View: Election congratulations
November 1, 2005
General sentiment is that the 2005 City Council election already was historic before the first ballots were counted. People calling and writing letters to the editor noted the amount of money candidates raised, along with the level of rancor and the number of allegations and complaints some of this year’s electioneering inspired.
It’s a safe bet that the same comments passed over dinner tables and backyard fences everywhere in town.
Many people were offended by shots directed at candidates, rather than issues, and were disappointed that the kind of negative campaigning that has come to define national elections had appeared here.
This election was historic for another and more important reason, as well. The seven people who’ll assemble next week in the newly configured City Council will have more to say about the city’s future than any in recent memory.
Those two aspects of the election — the sound and fury of the campaign and the weight of the issues at hand — are impossible to completely separate. Democracy is a beautiful thing, but it is seldom polite and never quiet and often appears the most unseemly when it’s working the best.
At least part of the heat in this election was generated by sincere, passionate interest in the future of the city among all the candidates and the people who wrote checks to finance their campaigns.
Although bare-knuckles campaigning among well-funded candidates can be painful to watch, and literally painful for the people involved, especially in a ring this small, things could have been worse.
The routine, apathetic transfer of power from one foregone conclusion to the next with neither challenge nor debate, for example, would bode worse for the city’s future.
The dilemma in vigorous local elections is that they often feature some of the best, brightest, most interested and engaged in a community all beating each other about the head and shoulders.
They can lead to grudges, divisions and factions for which warring with the opposition becomes more important than the tedious work of formulating good public policy.
We hope that doesn’t happen here. We remind everyone involved that the day after Election Day is a good day to lay down the spears and to recall that we are all in this together.
To the winners, we say congratulations. Remember that the point of an election is to win, but the point of winning is to govern, and that is a far more complicated proposition.
With your mandate, no matter how wide, comes the responsibility to gather broad input, to build consensus and to seriously consider opposing points of view. We urge you to look even among your opponents for that advice.
To the losers, we say congratulations. You played a role as important as any in the continuing experiment of democracy. We urge you to stay involved in the process, the community can’t help but be better for it.