The Municipal Election is getting closer. This is the chance for voters to decide who they want to see on the Borough Assembly, that is, if the voter is in the district for Soldotna. That’s because the Soldotna area race is the only contested race. This is the chance for voters to decide who they want to see on the School Board. Well, actually, that has already been decided, since only the incumbents filed in the race. I guess voters do have the opportunity to vote on the two initiatives.
I can’t believe it. Out of six races between the Assembly and the School Board, only one is a contested race. What happened? What caused all of these uncontested races? Was it caused by term limits? Was it caused by the new candidate disclosure requirements from the Alaska Public Offices Commission? Or, was it just no desire by anyone to be a part of the Assembly or School Board?
No matter what the cause, it needs to change. First, look at term limits. They might work on the state level. They definitely would work on the national level. However, I don’t agree with term limits on the local level. Here is why. The municipal politician, unlike others on other levels, is only a part-time politician. Members of the Borough Assembly get $400 per month, and, the Borough President receives $500 per month. School Board members receive $300 per month. The School Board President receives $400 per month. There are some perks and benefits that come with the job; but, I wouldn’t exactly call the salary equivalent to a full-time job. So, the term limit actually only works when there are plenty of candidates. This year, there are five uncontested races.
I think the candidate reform measures do work for career politicians. They should be scrutinized, since politics is their career. But, for municipal politicians who don’t even spend a large amount of money to campaign, some of these new rules just go too deep into a person’s private life. In fact, the state allows for the municipalities to opt out of these new rules with a vote of the people. Kenai is one example. Kenai also has a contested Mayor’s race and four people running for two council seats.
Finally, the issue of lack of interest is another possibility for the lack of candidates. I hope this isn’t the reason. But if it is, then this is really sad for the public process. Daily, there are complaints from all over the region. These complaints can be read, heard and seen. However, hardly any of the time will these complaintents run for political office. They sit in the bleachers and heckle those who are willing to participate in the public process by becoming a candidate.
As to the reason nobody is running, I think all of the reasons mentioned are part of the problem.
Think About It.