If “apathy is the death of democracy,” as someone once said, then Nevada County appears to be heading to a terminal stage. Low voter turnout in the June primary elections, combined with a lack of candidates for the Nov. 4 general elections, does not appear to bode well.
Many board positions are lacking candidates in the Nov. 4 elections in Nevada County’s special fire, school, recreation and water districts — leaving gaping holes that some political leaders are scrambling to fill.
Although there are many uncontested races where candidates who filed will simply be appointed in lieu of going through an election, some 18 seats simply don’t have anyone to appoint.
That is much higher than the four vacant seats in the Nov. 6, 2012 elections, according to county documents supplied by the Nevada County Elections Office.
“It’s a big sacrifice for people to give up their days and nights to do this,” said Deborah Wilder, chairwoman of the Nevada County Republican Party, who said she has already spoken with many people about various board positions. “We’ve got to catch people who are in the right place in their lives.”
Wilder said the party is “always looking for great leaders in the community, for good Republicans and fiscal conservatives who are willing to step up.” She said she intends to continue canvassing this fall for people to fill the remaining empty spots.
Similarly, Jim Firth, chairperson of the Nevada County Democratic Party, said he is interested in hearing which seats are seeking appointees.
“It’s always a challenge to find candidates to run for all the elected positions,” said Firth, who himself is in a four-way race on Nov. 4 for one of two open seats on Grass Valley City Council.
According to Alison Lehman, assistant county executive officer, the Nevada County Elections Office will bring a list of “appointees in lieu of going to ballot “ to Nevada County board of supervisors on Sept. 9. Those are candidates in uncontested special district races ranging from Sierra Joint Community College District to Beyers Lane Community Service District to Chicago Park School District.
A list of those likely appointees may be found at the county website, www.mynevadacounty.com, under “Elections.”
Less obvious on the same list are the 18 vacancies. According to Lehman, supervisors will be sending letters to each of the special districts where there are vacancies to notify them about the time frame for appointing people to fill the seats.
“The supervisors will also be sending them a copy of the ad that will be in the paper, online and posted on the bulletin boards,” Lehman said.
The ad, called a “Notice of Insufficient Candidates,” will seek applications from the public.
“Once applications are received, the board office prepares one resolution approving the discretionary appointments that will be taken to the board for adoption prior to the Monday before the first Friday in December,” Lehman said. “This year, it will probably go to the board on Nov. 18.”
Of the 18 vacant seats, three are for four-year terms on the Rough and Ready Fire Protection District board. Another three are for the San Juan Ridge County Water District board.
Three more vacancies are on the Bear River Recreation and Park District.
Two vacancies each are in the Oak Tree Community Park and Recreation District and in the Washington County Water District.
One seat each is void of candidates in: Higgins Area Fire Protection District; Nevada Joint Union High School District, area 5, Peardale-Chicago Park Fire Protection District, Mystic Mine Road Community Services District and Western Gateway Recreation and Park District.
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.