Today (Wednesday, March 6) there will be (or was) a presentation in Bath, NY by the Steuben County Election Commissioners called, “How to Run for Local Office in Steuben County.” The program is an attempt to outline the steps that a candidate needs to take to run for a County, a Town, City, or Village office. It was organized by the Steuben County League of Women Voters.
“We have a problem in New York State in that mostly incumbents run unopposed in many places, including Steuben and Chemung (counties),” Susan Multer of the Steuben League of Women Voters said. “The voters don’t have a choice. We want to encourage and enable more people to run. We are totally non-partisan.”
Even though Ms. Multer mention two of the counties of the NY 23rd Congressional District, the same problem can be seen all around the district. I am from Yates County, and all of the County Legislators are Republicans. They are all up for election, and there might be only one real race—and that is because the County was re-districted and one district has too many current legislators living in it. This is even when the County budget went up 14%, and the property taxes increased more than 8%–well above the State’s Tax Cap.
It is difficult to get candidates. If someone is slightly interested they can be turned off by what can be perceived as mazes of rules from petitions to filing deadlines to financial reports that can stop a campaign in its tracks. To make things more interesting, the rules can be different according to the office you are seeking. The different levels of municipalities (County, Town, City, Village) are controlled by different election laws, and the procedures vary somewhat.
Of course it is too late to attend the Steuben County meeting, but similar meetings could be held in different counties in the district. It doesn’t have to be organized by a League of Women Voters (Every county doesn’t have a chapter of LWV.), a small group of interested residents could be the organizers. Having such a meeting might attract someone to throw their hat into the ring. Even if it doesn’t you’ll have local experts explain the details of the cornerstone of our democracy–Elections.