At 5 p.m. last Friday, Kootenai County election officials confirmed some stunning news. In six cities, no incumbent will be challenged on the Nov. 7 ballot.
At 5:25 p.m., The Press received a text from one of those incumbents who concisely summed up the situation:
“Not sure if citizens are satisfied or they don’t give a ----!” the person concluded.
While citizens do seem by and large satisfied, the cynical temptation is to lean toward the latter possibility. Then again, reality might be somewhere between the two. Or way outside them.
It’s a fact that in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Hayden Lake, Dalton Gardens, Huetter and Worley, not a single challenger filed in time to get her or his name on the local election ballot. The county’s second biggest city, Post Falls, will feature only one contested council seat, but it’s a doozy: Six people are running for the job now held by Betty Ann Henderson, who’s not seeking re-election.
So why was the political snooze button hit in so many communities where these local, nonpartisan elections are usually hotbeds of civic passion? OK, maybe folks are really happy with the jobs their elected officials are doing. Or maybe they really don’t give a — well, a distinct bodily function or byproduct.
Or maybe it’s something else.
Maybe people who are qualified to seek public office are simply too blasted busy to put more responsibility on their plate. Campaigning is an arduous, stressful, time-consuming activity that involves door-knocking and meet-and-greets that will gobble up an otherwise beautiful autumn. And it can be expensive, especially when considering how much it can bite into work time or having to pay for chores you would’ve done yourself.
There’s another theory that’s worth exposing to public debate. What if most people are sick of politics? Of the stench coming from our nation’s capital that, like wildfire smoke, has permeated every crevice in the conscience of the American people? What if they’re so tired of the federal spectacle made by those who allegedly are leading us that they have no stomach to march down the once-proud path of civic duty?
Maybe, just maybe, worthy would-be candidates have suffered political food poisoning and they’re going to sit this out until they feel better.
Or maybe they just don’t give a ship.