Though there weren’t many contested or controversial races in Tuesday’s election, there were enough to spark significant interest in certain parts of the county.
For instance, several mayoral races were hotly contested – including contests that resulted in new mayors in St. Elmo and Brownstown and a new village president in St. Peter. In Vandalia, two-term incumbent mayor Rick Gottman fended off efforts by two challengers to secure his third term.
The contests showed that sitting representatives must continue to stay in touch with their constituents if they’re going to lead effectively and keep the support of the voters. They also showed the strength of our democratic system; citizens with a new vision for how our government should work are able to launch a challenge and let the voters decide.
The other focal point in Tuesday’s election – at least in the Brownstown and St. Elmo areas – was the question of consolidating the two school districts. It was an issue that elicited strong feelings and lively rhetoric on both sides of the issue. St. Elmo voters did support consolidation (by a vote of 622-370), but Brownstown voters did not (turning it down by a 34-vote margin, 373-339). For now, the issue is dead, because in order for the consolidation to move forward, it must pass in both communities.
We applaud the work done by the Committee of Ten and others who worked to bring the consolidation issue before the voters. It was worth the effort to have the voters consider the option and register their opinions. For now, the districts will stay the same. However, with state funding for schools more tenuous than ever, it may be necessary to re-visit the consolidation issue in future years. Small districts will continue to be at a disadvantage in the number and types of classes they’re able to offer. Though we understand the desire of some residents to retain their own distinct school district, the education of our young people must remain the highest priority.
With the elections behind us, let’s all make an effort to support those who have been elected to represent and lead us. Working together, we can accomplish more than we can if we remain at odds.