Sept. 9 is Primary Election Day in New Hampshire this year, and in addition to choosing the candidates who face each other in November for governor and U.S. senator and Congressional representative, we will be narrowing the field for state representative and state senator.
Unfortunately, in some races this year the collection of candidates casting their hats in the ring is surprisingly small. In some cases, not enough candidates have filed to fill all the open seats. In other cases, just enough have filed, which means there is no choice for voters until the November election pits Republicans against Democrats.
To us it reads turning away from a challenge. In a state that prides itself on a citizen legislature and the ability of each resident to have a say in government, fewer and fewer are bothering to seek office, even as fewer and fewer of the rest of us bother to cast ballots. It makes one wonder whether democracy is going the way of the dinosaur.
Now the question is: how to decide who are the best candidates, the ones deserving of your vote?
Disregarding those who vote for people because they’re friends or they’ve heard the name before – neither of which is a particularly good reason, what’s the best way to choose a candidate to represent your interests in Concord? Will the candidate vote the party line, regardless of what constituents want, or will he or she vote his or her own particular beliefs, again regardless of the desire of residents.
Will candidates hold forums to debate each other? Not that we’ve heard. Some will speak at political party meetings, some will visit clubs and social gatherings, but when will the real issues be debated? Such as how to pay for infrastructure that is failing? How to keep from putting more and more of a burden on the local property tax by downshifting costs? Why is casino gambling not appropriate for New Hampshire, disregarding the many New Hampshire residents who flock to spend their money at casinos in neighboring states.
And most importantly – and the hardest to discern – how do candidates propose to cut through the platitudes and generalities and official party lines and express their real beliefs? Or will that never happen?
Listen to and read everything a candidate says. Ask him or her questions. If the answer says nothing, confront them and ask it again.
How will you decide who gets your vote? You’ve got your work cut out for you.