Richmond Matters

Commentary and conversations about life in Richmond, Indiana

Government and Politics

A new political season

A new season of local politics is upon us, with 15 people filing in the primary cycle who want to become (or continue as) elected leaders in one office or another.

It’s disappointing that there aren’t additional primary contests beyond the Democrat mayoral primary. It might be good for candidates running unopposed, but it doesn’t speak to especially thriving or diverse political parties, or to a healthy democratic process.

At the very least, candidates in uncontested races should still work hard to widely share their qualifications and ideas for the office they seek. If they take the easy way out during the election, what should we expect from them once in office?

Beyond that, I have a few hopes for this time:

I hope we learn from the current state of national politics that divisiveness, personal attacks and disingenuous rhetoric only serves to waste time, money and opportunities for progress. Let our local political conversations be focused on finding common ground, critiquing ideas instead of people, and speaking in good faith.

I hope candidates move quickly from the generic to the specific when talking about issues facing our community. It’s easy to say that you want to create jobs or address the opioid crisis or practice transparency, but getting into the details of how to do this and what it looks like to be accountable to the results is much harder…and much more important and useful to voters.

I hope we don’t limit ourselves to Facebook debates as we try to understand different perspectives of our neighbors. The place where we live and work deserves in-depth listening and dialog, online and in person, that doesn’t just scroll off the page when we’re done.

I hope we learn to care about a candidate’s ability to execute on ideas and vision more than we do about long résumés, charisma or likability. There are plenty of people who make great candidates but don’t do so well as leaders, administrators or collaborators. (Having some basic technical skills would help too.)

I hope people turn out to vote. For all the ways we can claim to care about or be engaged in the future of our community, showing up to cast a vote is perhaps the easiest and most basic way to take action. And it’s one that can have an impact for years to come.

Above all, let us remember that this is not a game or a horse-race. It’s the lives and livelihoods of real people, and it’s setting the direction for our future as a city and county.

What do you hope for in this new political season?

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