Too many people are electing not to run

We’re all for School District 51 saving money, but not this way.

Because there were, as of last Friday, no contested races for the three District 51 school board seats up for election this year, it’s possible the district might not hold an election at all.

And not holding an election could save the district as much as $85,000, although — we hasten to add — District 51 officials are not encouraging that outcome.

They recognize, as all taxpayers should, that the cost of elections are among the most important expenses a representative democracy must incur. Not only do elections allow citizens to select the people they want to represent them on the elected body, but contested elections foment healthy debate about the policies and direction of the public institutions in question.

Should District 51 push forward with an aggressive plan for constructing new schools as quickly as possible, or scale back its plans and wait until the economy improves substantially?

Is the district on the right track in dealing with statewide tests and academics in general, or does it need to refocus its efforts?

These are the sorts of questions voters might see debated if there were contested elections in the district this year.

Fortunately, a news story by The Daily Sentinel’s Emily Anderson on Thursday generated additional interest by potential candidates, a district spokesman said. Several petitions for candidacy have been picked up, and candidates will have until this Friday to obtain the required 50 signatures to get their names on the November ballot.

One incumbent for the three seats up this year, Ron Rowley in District E, is term-limited and can’t seek re-election. We commend incumbents Harry Butler in District C and Leslie Kiesler in District D for seeking second terms on the board, even though the no-pay positions hardly bring one riches or political glory. There is satisfaction in serving the community and its children.

We hope others will seek that civic undertaking, as well, and ensure that voters have a choice of school board candidates this year.


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