Crowded county board ballot good news for voters

The Marquette County Clerk’s Office recently issued the ballot listing for this year’s partisan candidate elections to the Marquette County Board, with an outstanding 17 candidates running for the six open seats on the panel.

This is the greatest number of candidates to run for the county board in many years.

We think this development is good for local government and democracy, giving voters real choices to make in selecting who will fill these important leadership roles.

All six seats are up for consideration and three of the six incumbents have announced they will not seek re-election. The term of office is two years.

As of the most recent ballot lineup, there will be three contested primary races and the general election will see contested races in five of the six districts. Additional candidates may be added to the ballot with the deadline for non-partisan candidates to file set at 4 p.m. July 17. Candidates may have also dropped off the ballot list given last Friday’s deadline for partisan withdrawals and later, with a 4 p.m. July 21 withdrawal deadline for non-partisans.

We think whoever does get elected to the board will face some tough decisions on issues ranging from funding at K.I. Sawyer, resolving space needs questions and perhaps being faced eventually with whether to cut services or workers if state revenue sharing is not properly appropriated.

It’s hard to know why so many candidates have become interested in running for office this year. Several of the candidates are incumbents or have held political office at a lower level of government. Is a surge in political ambition for higher office the reason?

The board has not made any widely controversial decisions lately, which could theoretically drive candidates onto the ballot. Nor has the board been so lackluster in its performance that it could be accused of doing nothing, thereby prompting an outpouring of “get something done” candidates.

We doubt it would be the pay or the “glamor” or the public access television exposure, nor the desire to attend numerous meetings each year, especially when wrangling over the budget or other difficult concerns. Whatever the reason, we’re glad for it. We look forward to covering the races.

We also look forward to perhaps some returning commissioners, along with some new perspectives and faces on the board, moving the county ahead through the challenges and uncertainties of the coming years.