In Jefferson County, only 27 percent, of the registered voters actually voted. That is about one in four or 6,659 of 25,353 registered Democrats and Republicans cast ballots in the primary election.
It was a municipal election without the blitz of publicity that swirls about a Presidential campaign. That does not mean it was any less important. Yet, only 27 percent of the voters took part in the process.
I can understand county Democrats staying home. In reality, they had no choices. Two candidates were going to be nominated for county commissioner and there were two men running for that office. The result was instant nomination. There was no candidate for either Sheriff or Register and Recorder and only one candidate for County Auditor.
The Republicans had no such excuse. There was a vibrant race for county commissioner with seven candidates on the ballot. That is real choice. There were even three candidates for the two ballot positions for County Auditor, a race that never draws a crowd.
Locally there were choices for school board in nearly every school district we cover. Even some of the townships offered a choice. Many boroughs and townships did not. In at least three boroughs there no candidates at all.
I am no political pundit but I don’t think you need to be one to see that this trend is not healthy. If we choose not to govern ourselves we will find ourselves governed by others. If we choose not to lead, we will be led.
For example, the current Governor does not represent rural Pennsylvania. He catered to special interest groups to get elected and he will remain true to that base. During the campaign he never visited this county. His leadership can hardly be expected to mirror our rural values.
We realize in this state that when the two major cities speak, they have their way. In the last election we had a very good man from this county running for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He lost to well oiled machines from the southeast and the southwest. The high court could have used a little of John Foradora’s common sense. Instead, the court will continue to be dominated by urbanites who see the law through a very specific prism.
One rural county will not change the canvas of state politics but we can determine our own future. That future will not reflect our views accurately if only one in four citizens vote.
Nor will we develop leaders if only one in four of us vote. Leadership isn’t something that is purchased in a store and administered like a salve. Leadership must be learned and the learning process begins at the local level.
It is a clear choice: Get involved with the process of government or stay at home at watch reality shows and pretend that is real life. If you let the “other guy” do it, he will and all you can do is complain about being excluded from the process.
That is reality.