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Competition is good; thank you to the candidates: Editorial

Posted 3/20/19

Competition is a good thing in just about every undertaking in life.

Elections are no exception.

Contested races lead to more in-depth discussions of issues. They allow voters to get to know …

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Competition is good; thank you to the candidates: Editorial

Posted

Competition is a good thing in just about every undertaking in life.

Elections are no exception.

Contested races lead to more in-depth discussions of issues. They allow voters to get to know better those who are running. Races with multiple candidates for seats increase the possibility of turnover among elected officials, which can stimulate new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Middletown Borough Council has seven candidates running for four seats. Because Robert Reid isn’t running again, there will be at least one new person on the council.

Three Republican incumbents on the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners are facing challenges from two other candidates.

Three Republicans are running for two seats as Londonderry Township supervisors.

It is a thankless task, serving in local office. The pay is low, Middletown councilors receive a stipend of $125 a month, and council president and the mayor receive a stipend of $175 a month, for example. The hours can be long. Words of thanks can be few.

In fact, in today’s world of social media, you are more likely to be criticized than ever before when you serve in government.

We applaud those who have put their hat in the ring. It brings to mind the oft-quoted “Man in the Arena” speech by Theodore Roosevelt, given at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910, several years following his presidency.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It’s true. It’s easy to snipe at decisions and decision-makers. It’s much more difficult to stand as an elected official, make the tough decisions, and respond to the criticism. Simply trying to make a difference should be applauded.

Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the races.

There are five Democrats running for Middletown council, for example, and two Republicans. So barring something unforeseen, Republicans Dave Rhen and Richard Kluskiewicz will move on to the general election. Registered Democrats will reduce their number of candidates from five to four among incumbents Angela Lloyd, Mike Woodworth and Ellen Willenbecher and newcomers Phyllis Dew and Erin Blake. So six total candidates will run for four seats in November.

What’s notable is that, other than Rhen, these candidates have very little political experience. In fact, the other six have never been elected to public office. Lloyd, Woodworth and Willenbecher all were appointed to council seats in the last year. Dew, Blake and Kluskiewicz appear to be making their first attempts as candidates.

In Lower Swatara, there is only one Democrat on the ballot for commissioner —  Danielle Prokopchak, who ran unsuccessfully in 2015. Republicans will pick three candidates from among four on the ballot to run in November. Board President Jon Wilt and Vice President Todd Truntz are running, along with a third incumbent, Mike Davies. Also running as a Republican is Donald Wagner, in his first attempt at public office.

Barring something unforeseen, Prokopchak will be the sole Democrat on the November ballot, running against three Republicans for three seats.

We applaud the fact that they have raised their hands to give it a try, as well as commend those elected officials who already have spent time in the arena.

For the thousands of other residents of Middletown, Lower Swatara and Londonderry — get out and vote. That is your role in this.

Some of you erroneously think that your vote doesn’t really matter. But in local elections such as these, when the voting pool is smaller, your vote takes on added significance. A handful of votes can change an election.

We will provide more information about the candidates as the election draws near.

For now, we salute all those who are running. We wish them the best as they “enter the arena.”