Marketplaces function best when consumers have choices, and that includes the marketplace of ideas embodied by our elections and the campaigns leading up to them. When voters have choices, candidates are more likely to voice ideas that have to compete for approval at the ballot box.
It’s always a little sad to see anyone – regardless of political party or affiliation – running unopposed for an elected position. Even if an incumbent is widely respected and known for doing a bang-up job, there’s something inherently valuable about having opposition. Among other things, it sends a subtle message to everyone seeking office that they are accountable to voters and could be replaced if they ever forget that, as has been known to happen.
The farther down the ballot you go, the more likely it is to find a candidate running unopposed.
In Belknap County, Democrats have no candidates running for the offices of county treasurer, county attorney and county sheriff. That is regrettable.
The only candidate who filed to be on the November ballot for sheriff is Bill Wright, a deputy sergeant in the sheriff’s department. Wright is running unopposed as a Republican, and looked like a shoo-in for the job until Richard Robinson emerged as a late write-in candidate.
Robinson is a former police chief in Sanbornton who has worked in the private sector for the past 17 years. If he gets more votes than Wright among Democratic primary voters in Tuesday’s election, he will appear on the Democratic side of the general election ballot and voters will have a choice in November.
Wright has worked in the sheriff's department for the past 15 years, and is undoubtedly qualified for the top position.
At the same time, it is good for voters to have options, and Robinson deserves credit for offering voters that opportunity. It’s no knock against Wright, but when voters cast their ballots Tuesday, Robinson deserves serious consideration as a write-in candidate.
Then the men will have two months to convince voters that they are the best choice to lead the sheriff’s department. Regardless of who prevails, voters are winners if they at least have a choice.
Editor's note: This article was updated on Sept. 7 to reflect that Peter R. Brunette is a Democratic candidate for county commissioner.