February 11, 2009
With national politics in the spotlight following an extremely hard-fought presidential primary and general election -- not to mention the worst economic situation in decades -- city electioneering may seem like small potatoes by comparison. But the same issues of fiscal responsibility, ethics and good government that have captured national headlines are equally important down home as well.
With less and less money to go around, it''s more important than ever to have confidence in the people who are "minding our store," whether it''s at the national, state or local level.
Here in Columbus, we''ll be voting for mayor and the six City Council posts this year. These seven people will determine the course for our city for the next four years, at a time when Columbus, like its sister cities everywhere, will likely be struggling to make ends meet with fewer sales tax dollars due to decreased consumer spending.
Citizens have until 5 p.m. Friday, March 6, to qualify to run for office. We urge qualified and committed Columbus residents to consider throwing their hats in the ring. If you think you can be of service to your community, take the plunge, or, if you know someone who has the right leadership qualities, encourage him or her to run.
To seek city office, you must be a registered voter with no felony convictions. To run for the City Council, you must have been a resident of the ward you wish to represent for at least the past 90 days. Qualifying forms are available at City Registrar Brenda Williams'' office in City Hall. The cost to qualify for Republicans and Democrats is $10. There is no charge for independents.
The primary election will be held May 5, followed by a runoff, if necessary, on May 19, and a general election June 2. The winners will be sworn into office July 6 and will serve until 2013.
So far, the mayor and all six current members of the Columbus City Council have qualified to run for office. In addition, four other local citizens have filed qualifying papers for the council.
A democracy is strengthened by spirited elections and the lively debate of public issues. There is still time for more citizens to qualify and run in this year''s city races.
If you care strongly about the future of Columbus, if you have educated yourself on the issues facing our city, if you have the time to devote to the job, and if you have the necessary interpersonal communication skills and sufficient skin thickness, then you may have what it takes to become a public servant.
Candidates for city offices to date include:
(i = incumbent)
Robert Smith (i)
City Council Ward 1
Gene Taylor (i)
City Council Ward 2
Susan Mackay (i)
City Council Ward 3
Charles E. "Charlie" Box
Gene Coleman (i)
City Council Ward 4
Fred Stewart (i)
City Council Ward 5
Jay Jordan (i)
City Council Ward 6
Jerry Kendall (i)
1. Ask Rufus: Coming home at Christmas LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Birney Imes: A Christmastime ramble LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Dana Milbank: Marco Rubio's fury NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Michael Gerson: A global conspiracy of health NATIONAL COLUMNS