While Wyoming residents did not welcome Liz Cheney with outstretched arms when she announced her plans to run for Congress, her withdrawal from the race for one of Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seats isn’t necessarily great news.
One of the great things about our country is the opportunity citizens have to choose their leaders in elections. While some argue that “the people” have chosen poorly, the right to vote is one that is valued, has been fought for and is ingrained in who we are.
Whether or not you like Cheney, or incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi, the loss of a contested primary is just that — a loss.
Mudslinging, superficial or from the deep-pockets of out-of-state PACs, has become a norm in politics. But here was a contested election between two viable Republican candidates in a state thick with Republicans. There was an opportunity, albeit short-lived, for real debate on issues that matter to Wyoming residents.
In addition, the Enzi-Cheney race gave Wyoming an electoral focus on the national stage. Pundits and Sunday morning talk shows were paying attention. In a country that sometimes forgets which rectangular state out West is Wyoming, this attention by the national media was positive, making more Americans aware of our state’s issues.
Locally, too, elections sometimes lack a certain level of debate.
In 2012, seven of the 17 local contests were unchallenged in the general election. That is more than 41 percent. This means people are getting elected to office without having to seriously debate the issues or defend their beliefs.
Most who have been elected locally serve the public well. They dedicate time, energy and often finances toward helping our community run a little more smoothly. It is also understood that public office isn’t for everyone. But isn’t spirited debate a cornerstone of democracy?
This year, Sheridan County will once again see several local races on the ballot, including those for state representative, Sheridan City Council and county positions such as clerk, treasurer and commissioners.
Step up. Get involved. Help make your community a better place.