If you add it up, from the mayor’s seat to the four seats on the Crookston City Council and three seats on the Crookston School Board, there are eight elected offices up for election in Crookston in November (excluding Polk County races). And when you add up all the candidates who filed before the deadline a week ago, there are 21 Crookston residents vying for those eight offices. Do the math, and that’s almost three candidates to choose from per seat.
Now, granted, some elected offices garnered far more candidates than others, such as for mayor and the at-large council seat up for election this year. So, yes, a couple local offices really offer no choice for local voters as they fill in their ballots on Nov. 6.
But, still, many other cities would be delighted if that many residents wanted to be engaged in the process of leading their town or school district so much that they were willing to put in the time and effort that comes with being elected to office.
There’s a flip side to the positivity permeating the previous paragraph, of course. Maybe so many people run for office in Crookston because they think the current system, leadership and/or way of doing things are broken and in need of new blood if the system is to work in a better and more positive fashion.
It does sort of make one wonder, as you scan the roster of 21 candidates and see so many familiar names...names of people who have run repeatedly for local elected office in recent years and come up short. It’s clear that there’s a cluster of Crookston residents who really, really want to be elected into positions of power, positions that presumably can make a difference in Crookston.
Which brings us to those who already hold elected office, and whose seats are not up for election this November? Can’t you just stay put? Can’t you just finish the term you were most recently elected to, and then evaluate your options at that point?
For one, we had a mayor in 2016 who resigned mid-term because he ran for and was elected to the Polk County Board of Commissioners. There has also been the trend over the past several years of council members representing a specific ward wanting the increased influence that presumably comes with holding one of the two at-large seats on the council. We currently have two council members who have years left on their council terms running for mayor. If either one of them or both fails in their efforts, they simply get to return to their council seat.
That doesn’t seem entirely right. If you’re going to abandon the seat you were elected to in favor of pursuing another elected office, why should you just be able to settle back into your former seat if your attempt to jump to another office fails?
Would you vote for a council candidate in your ward if you knew he’d run for another office halfway through his term. One would think that advance knowledge would make voters think twice before deciding which little oval on their ballot to fill in.
In the grand scheme, it’s not a terrible problem, and in this case it should be dwarfed by the positivity that comes with so many people willing to run for elected office in Crookston.