Our View: Plenty of offices, fewer candidates in Stanislaus County

July 30, 2013 

Are incumbents and prospective candidates procrastinating? Or strategically waiting to see who else is running? Or are there simply not enough people willing to lead the governing councils and boards in our community?

There's no way of knowing which of these factors is at play, but with only eight working days remaining during the regular candidate filing period, there are many positions in which no one has shown interest.

For example, no one has filed for a two-year opening on the Modesto City Schools board or for any of the three county Board of Education seats or for three openings on the Riverbank school board.

The lack of candidates is most evident on special district boards and on the municipal advisory councils, whose members advise the Board of Supervisors on issues in their unincorporated communities. There are 24 municipal advisory council seats to be filled in the Nov. 5 election and only four people have declared their candidacies.

Even if we believe that the current board and council members are doing a good job, we like to see contested races because they can generate a healthy discussion of issues during the campaigns. And we believe the public has more confidence in leaders and representatives who they have had an opportunity to meet and to vote for in the election process.

Some elected officials are paid and-or are eligible for medical insurance coverage. Compensation — the need for a job or for insurance coverage — should not be the deciding factor, although we acknowledge that the time demands for some positions can make it hard for those who hold them to work a typical full-time job.

The municipal advisory councils and special district boards generally are not so time- consuming, but people shouldn't underestimate their importance. Special districts provide essential services such as fire protection and sewer service in many areas. Those districts need to be well-run.

We urge citizens, especially those with some financial savvy and a willingness to learn new things, to consider this form of public service.

The list of openings in Stanislaus County is available on the elections office website, www.stanvote.com/candidates-measures.shtm.

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