With five candidates vying for the seat of retiring Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling, there is no doubt Nevada County voters will have ample options to consider when they step into the voting booth this election season.
Jeffrey Ingram, a Grass Valley attorney, was the latest to join the list, declaring his intent to run in time to meet Monday’s filing deadline. He joins Superior Court Legal Research Attorney Angela L. Bradrick, Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson, attorney Jeffrey A. Lake and federal prosecutor Robert Tice-Raskin in the race.
One other judge also intends to run in the June election, Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to replace retiring Judge Julie McManus in 2012. Because Sloven will apparently run unopposed as the incumbent, voters won’t actually get to choose which judge fills that seat.
And not having a choice is not good on election day, and the campaign leading to it is not a good thing.
Without an actual race, unopposed candidates won’t have to debate with an opponent on important issues they will likely face in their role as an elected official.
As a result, voters are not presented with much of an opportunity to gain a good understanding of where their soon-to-be-elected public servant might stand on those issues or others.
In recent years, we’ve seen similar examples of not having much of a choice on the ballot, including the most recent Nevada City Council election, which had three open seats filled by the only three candidates who filed. We are hopeful that this time around, voters in both Grass Valley and Nevada City will have multiple choices among candidates for their respective city councils, as well as those seeking a seat on local school boards.
Of course, it takes a great deal of commitment to the community for someone to step forward and accept the kind of responsibility — and scrutiny — that comes with being an elected official.
Other than the salary of Superior Court judges, nearly $180,000, these positions offer meager compensation, if any at all. And the amount of homework to be completed prior to actual council and board meetings amounts to a substantial pile of paperwork to be read in order to be an informed representative when casting a vote.
Public service is the very foundation of our government. We applaud and encourage anyone willing to step up to serve our community in such a role, especially if that means we will have an actual choice to make on election day.
Candidates must officially declare with the Nevada County Elections office between Feb. 10 and March 7. The Signatures-In-Lieu of Filing Fee period began on Dec. 27 and will extend to Feb. 20.
Our View represents the opinions of The Union editorial board, which is comprised of members of The Union staff, as well as informed members of the community.