Election 2014: cheers and jeers

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By The Staff

For the first time in at least a decade, roughly 20 people will vie for eight seats on the La Grange City Council. Additionally, three people are running for La Grange mayor and many county government positions will see contested primaries.

This newspaper applauds that type of civic engagement, hopefully rooted in good intentions.

Rest assured, this is not an indictment of current officeholders. We applaud them for their service, past, present and possibly future.

But the worst thing a community can face is a lack of civic engagement by way of apathy. Competition is good. Competition leads to new ideas and hard work.

Oldham County, La Grange, its citizens and its elected officials shouldn’t be afraid of a little competition. They should embrace it. The best ideas and people will win, just like the current elected officials did in their last go-around.

At the other end of the spectrum is a special election held last week. Only 15 people, out of more than 600 eligible, cast votes to decide whether Yew Dell Botanical Gardens could start selling alcohol by the drink.

That’s less than 2 percent turnout for the Crestwood precinct allowed to vote on the matter. To say that’s deplorable is an understatement.

Two percent of registered voters casting ballots in a precinct is such a low number it can make an election result laughable. If you factor in all citizens in said precinct, the turnout number will likely be a decimal point.

No matter the question, only 15 people shouldn’t decide any decision that triggers an election, whether it pertains to alcohol use or elected office.

The low turnout is no fault of Yew Dell, which simply followed state law in submitting petitions for the election.

This is not a dismissal of their newfound capabilities, which should help the event center grow and prosper.

It’s an indictment of the system, which puts special elections on a random Tuesday in January. County officials, namely County Clerk Julie Barr, have pushed for a change to the current rules in Frankfort, to little avail.

The special election for Yew Dell cost the county more than $3,000 dollars. To break it down per voter, the cost is roughly $230 per vote.

It’s hard to see a benefit to those extra costs, incurred only because the vote took place on a special day, instead of a primary or general election, where polls and workers are already in place.

In fact, one could argue there’s absolutely no benefit at all to such an arraignment and win said argument.

We hope those in Frankfort see elections like the one held for Yew Dell and change their minds, and the current policy, for the betterment of Oldham County and the Commonwealth as a whole.

The fact that more people signed up to run for city council than vote in an important special election is both exciting and soundly disappointing.

And honestly, the disappointment weighs more heavily on our collective consciences.