Commissioners race has added importance this year
Late in 2020, protesters milled about outside Ardmore City Hall in opposition of the commissioners decision to mandate mask usage.
Their stated grievance wasn't with the ordinance itself but that they weren’t offered a vote. That they didn’t get a say.
While technically true, the sentiment is inherently false. Every registered voter in the city of Ardmore gets to weigh in on the city’s business. They do so every three years when a commissioner's seat opens up for reelection.
Simply put, if you don’t like what your elected officials are doing, challenge them for their seat or vote for their opponent.
The latter option has not particularly been an option in recent memory. Both in the city commission and a number of other local races across the county, a lack of candidates have led to a lack of elections. The last time Ardmore held an actual city commissioner race was in 2012. John Moore won that election with 1,336 votes. Every year since, the incumbent or their eventual replacement has ran unopposed.
This phenomena isn’t unique to the city commission. School board elections often experience the same lack of participation. Of the five county-only races in 2020, only two drew an opponent. Those that did draw an opponent were only challenged in their primary, which left half the county without a say in the eventual winners. Another election that went uncontested was that of State Rep. Tammy Townley.
It is easy for those who do nothing to criticize those who do everything. Yet with political elections, that seems to be the preferred course of action.
Elections are more than just an opportunity to support or promote your preferred political party or candidate. They are about the exchange of ideas and, perhaps most importantly, allow the citizens to weigh in on the direction their government is heading.
Public service is a calling as much as it is a commitment.
Commissioners John Moore and Martin Dyer exemplified that. The years of experience and leadership they brought to the commission will be hard to replace. The course they helped chart for Ardmore is one that will have a lasting impact on the city and the community.
While their presence will be greatly missed, their absence has created an opportunity for the next generation of leadership to step up and fill the void they leave behind.
The filing period for the April 6 election is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 1 through Feb. 3. The deadline to register to vote for this election is March 12.
A government of the people, by the people and for the people requires active participation by those very same people. That participation starts and ends at the local level.