If you ran, we say thank you

By the time you read this (especially if you started on the front page), you will no doubt know who won yesterday’s elections, and will now know who is serving on the Custer City Council, the Hermosa Town Board, and which of the South Dakota House of Representatives and Senate Republican candidates are advancing to this fall’s primary election, where both have an opponent awaiting them.
Yes, there is a Democrat running for both the state House of Representatives and Senate, and we say that’s a good thing. Regardless of your political leanings, it’s always good for us to have choices in election. When apathy goes too far, we have no candidates to represent us. When town board members, county commissioners, etc., are appointed instead of elected, that’s not ideal. Sure, the person being appointed may be great for the role in which they are being appointed, but it’s still the less desirable option than having someone win an election. That person was chosen by the people.
A few years ago we ran a story in the Chronicle called “Running from office,” that outlined all the reasons that people don’t want to run for office anymore. Among the reasons are that we are seeing a decline in volunteering—there just aren’t enough hours in the day for someone to commit to serving in office. Whether it’s job commitments, children commitments, whatever the case may be, many people are already stretched thin and allocating the time it takes to serve on a city council, county commission or at the state level just isn’t feasible.
Many others just don’t want the hassle of having to deal with the slings and arrows that one walks into by serving. With serving comes increased scrutiny—from your constituents, from the rest of the residents, from this newspaper. It’s part of what you sign up for when you choose to run for office. If you’re a regular citizen and get a DUI, it’s not in the newspaper until it winds up in court news after adjudication. If you’re a county commissioner and get a DUI? That’s front page news, like it or not.
The fact is, however, that we need community-minded individuals to run for office. Without them, our society falls apart. That’s why we are so grateful for everyone who runs for office, regardless of whether they won their election or didn’t get a single vote. You put yourself out there, and that is what mattered most. While some people seek elected office driven by revenge, an axe to grind or to line their own pockets, we like to believe that most who seek office are doing so for the good of the community. There isn’t a ton of money in being elected to local office.
Now, national offices, that’s a different story. Most, if not all, run for the power and money. But that’s a different column for a different time.
So, to all of you who won your elections, congratulations. To all of you who ran but lost, we salute you. You stepped up and did something only a fraction of the population would ever dare to do. Most of us only complain. You actually tried to make a difference. There is no shame in that, no matter how the results played out for you. Well done.

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