Clean campaigns, apathetic voters

Congratulations to the candidates who emerged victorious in Tuesday night’s primary.

In some cases, those candidates now win the right to represent their party in the November election, against opposition supported by other political parties. In a few cases, winning their party’s nomination was the whole ball game, because there is no opposition in November.

Among those seats are the Surry County Board of Commissioners Mount Airy District seat, won by Bill Goins, and the Central District seat, won by Mark Marion. Mamie Sutphin won another term to her Surry County Schools District #2 board of education seat, while Earlie Coe and Terri Mosley were unopposed in their bids to remain on the school board.

While there were some hotly contested races in the primary, we commend most of the candidates for running clean, issues-oriented campaigns.

There were a few instances of dirty politics — someone posting an anonymous (and cowardly) website attacking one candidate and another candidate attempting to force her employees to campaign for her then getting angry with them and with the media once that was reported — but largely, this election was devoid of personal attacks.

Of course, when people are running for the nomination within their own party, knowing if they lose they will need to support the nominee, sometimes candidates will be a little less pointed in their criticism of their opponent. In the fall election, when folks from different parties run against one another, is when the kid gloves often come off.

We hope that’s not the case in November.

Yes, we would like to see aggressive, hard-fighting campaigns from both Republicans and Democrats (and Libertarians in a couple of state legislative seats that touch on Surry County).

But we want those campaigns to focus on the issues, focus on how individuals seeking office will best serve the residents of Surry County.

This community and state has plenty of serious issues to tackle: the alarming widespread use of opioids, school funding, a workforce that is still underemployed, a chronically overcrowded county jail, a General Assembly still bent on imposing one-party rule in North Carolina … the list could go on for some time.

There are plenty of issues to be addressed without personal attacks, plenty of serious matters the candidates can honestly disagree on.

Again, congratulations to Tuesday night’s winners. We hope they will do their part to make the fall races substantive, serious campaigns. If they do that, then we believe the voters of Surry County will be the real winners come November.

Poor turnout

If there is one overriding disappointment from the primary on Tuesday, it was the paltry turnout.

Just 8,363 people voted in Surry County, out of 45,561 who are registered to do so. That’s barely 18 percent, and it’s something beyond understanding.

We understand the feeling of hopelessness among voters when it comes to national, and even state, elections. It seems as if your vote doesn’t count, when no matter who wins we get more of the same — bickering, finger-pointing, politicians lining their pockets and taking care of their friends, toeing the party line even when that party line is sometimes outlandishly irresponsible.

But local elections truly are a different matter. The folks holding these offices affect the daily lives of local residents in so many ways — from local tax rates and land development issues, to neighborhood law enforcement, from running quality schools to effectively managing the court system and seeing that laws are enforced.

With early voting, same-day registration and voting, and the traditional primary day voting, it is easier to take part in the electoral process than ever.

Yet four out of every five registered voters in Surry County couldn’t be bothered.

For those of you who did cast a ballot, we say good for you. The rest? You should be ashamed of yourselves.