Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

May 16, 2014

OUR VIEW: Primary election too vital for local voters to simply overlook

GLASGOW — It’s no secret that primary elections are often hard sells to voters around Kentucky, including Barren County. The 2012 primary attracted just 16.6 percent of Barren County’s registered voters, the 2011 version a woeful 10.3 percent.

That’s pretty bad, but primary turnout is undeniably driven by buzz-worthy races. In that regard, Tuesday’s primary is similar to the 2010 edition that pulled a more-respectable 32.1 percent of Barren County’s voters to the polls:

• A U.S. Senate race that has garnered national attention. In fact, the ongoing McConnell-Bevin-Grimes show has, at least at this point in the campaign, been more intense and closely scrutinized than the Paul-Grayson-Conway-Mongiardo thing was in 2010.

• A gaggle of local candidates vying for significant offices. We’ve got eight choices for Barren County judge-executive, four each for mayor of Glasgow and Barren County jailer, and four for Barren County sheriff. Nearly two dozen people want a seat on Barren County Fiscal Court and 16 people want to be a constable. Forty-seven of these candidates will appear on the primary ballot. Voters definitely have options.

So there’s reason for civic-minded residents to be optimistic that Tuesday’s election attracts a healthy voting contingent. We hope that’s the case. Barren Countians are making important choices in 2014, and what happens Tuesday will shape the fall campaign. The more voices that are heard Tuesday, the better off we’ll be in November.

Consider Barren County government specifically – we are guaranteed a new judge-executive, since Davie Greer opted not to seek a fourth term. And three of the county’s seven magisterial seats will change hands – current magistrate Tommy Matthews isn’t running, and Chris Steward and Rickey Spillman are pursuing other offices. The makeup of fiscal court will be significantly different, and that change begins Tuesday.

Some argue that consciously choosing not to vote is equally as influential as voting, but we’re not buying it. Unhappy with all the candidates? Fine – vote anyway and actually hold the winners accountable. If they fall short, vote them out of office and repeat the process until you’re satisfied. It’s a simple idea. The only message sent by not voting is that the system is irrelevant, that who wins and loses is a meaningless distinction.

But take a good, hard look around Barren County this weekend. Think about the state of our neighborhoods and communities. Then ask yourself if it really doesn’t matter who’s filling our public offices in the coming years.

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