Georgia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Valdosta Daily Times on voter turnout:
We are not vain enough to think that people got out to vote because of our constant badgering.
We did badger, a lot.
And, you voted.
A lot of you voted.
It seems like after every election we bemoan the abysmal voter turnout.
Not this time.
A high percentage of registered voters in Lowndes County cast a ballot in this midterm and gubernatorial election.
You made your voices heard.
Whether or not you like the outcome of the election, everyone should celebrate the larger voter turnout and come away with a strong sense of satisfaction that the people selected their leaders.
The way we vote is changing. It seems with each passing election more and more people are opting to vote early.
Whether you took advantage of the early voting period or waited until Election Day, the most important thing is that more of you voted and that is a very good thing.
It is democracy in action.
We badger you a lot about registering to vote and then voting on or before Election Day simply because we believe in our form of government and also believe that if government is going to truly be of, by and for the people, that the people must exercise the right and privilege of the vote, and let their collective voices be heard.
That is what happened in this election, a historic midterm turnout no matter how you feel about the results.
Now that hotly contested races are over, everyone should want what is best for our country, our state, our county and our communities.
We should want all those who are elected to office, whether we voted for them or not, to be successful and to lead with dignity and respect for the electorate.
We encourage those elected to office to lead in those ways and represent everyone in your jurisdiction, not just your base.
Voters had a lot to decide including your choice for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and other down ballot state offices, along with a state representative, county commissioner, tax assessor and several ballot questions.
You trusted the process and that is the way it should be.
Perhaps your candidate or political party won in Tuesday’s election. Or, perhaps they lost.
Either way, we are all winners when we peaceably elect our leader and peaceably retain or transfer power.
The Savannah Morning News on recruiting 2020 candidates:
For the local political party organizations, the day after the election is typically one of rest.
If the 2018 midterms taught anything, though, it is that for voters, the 2020 races began the moment they stepped away from the ballot machine.
Engagement is at an all-time high, and voters are tired of uncontested and tokenly contested seats for posts like U.S. Congress and the Georgia General Assembly. We had the good fortune here in the Savannah-area to see challengers step up to take on established candidates in four significant races: the 1st Congressional District, State Senate District 1 and two State House districts.
The local arms of the Democratic and Republican parties should consider the public reaction a call to identify, groom and market candidates for the next cycle. And do so early, not via email plea in the months ahead of the primary.
Our incumbents are much too comfortable — both within their party and in general elections. Competition isn’t just valuable, it’s vital. Campaigning should require more than buying some yard signs and doing a few small, friendly meet and greets.
Sitting elected officials must face tough questions. Without opponents, they aren’t even asked.
Consider the following:
Rep. Buddy Carter, who faced challenger Lisa Ring on Tuesday, ran unopposed for U.S. Congress in 2016.
State Sen. Ben Watson hadn’t faced an opponent since winning a primary for his open seat in 2010. Sandra Workman ran against him in Tuesday’s election.
Sen. Lester Jackson, who won an unopposed contest Tuesday, last faced a challenger in 2010.
State House Reps. Ron Stephens and Bill Hitchens, who faced challengers Alicia Scott and Adam Bridges on Tuesday, hadn’t seen opposition since 2012.
As for the four state House representatives who won unopposed races Tuesday, three had not seen opponents since first winning their current seats: Jesse Petrea in 2014; Mickey Stephens in 2008 and J. Craig Gordon in 2006.
Carl Gilliard, who ran unopposed in these midterms, faced the same opponents twice in 2016: Once in a special election to fill the vacancy created by the unexpected death of Bob Bryant and then again that November.
The absence of challengers is a disservice to both the voters and the candidates. Especially in these political times, when our country and state are facing polarizing issues like never before, we need discussion and debate.
The few forums and town halls held in the run-up to this election underscored that demand. Incumbents came off insulated, if not outright tone-deaf, on several points, and challengers fell prey to parroting party stances.
Recruitment for 2020 will require strategy.
The four challengers enlisted by the Democrats this cycle all ran great campaign ground games. But none had previously served in elected office, which meant they lacked records to run on.
While being politically green can be good — neophytes are untainted by the system’s bureaucracy, after all — uncertainty with voters is often a shortcoming.
What’s more, some of the challengers pushed specific views that were out of line with that of the overwhelming majority of their constituents. That left voters who were unhappy with the incumbents, but not ideologically inclined, little choice but to hold their noses and vote for re-election.
Hopefully, the local party brass, both Democratic and Republican, will take Tuesday’s lessons and apply them immediately. There are many quality leaders both inside and outside of government in our area who would make strong Georgia General Assembly and U.S. Congress candidates.
Identify them now and start building and marketing their credentials early next year. They need name recognition, well-established resumes and detailed messages that resonate with voters.
Look for women, in particular. Right now, all eight members of our legislative delegation are male. That’s not representative of our community.
The 2020 Georgia General Assembly elections are particularly important. Those senators and representatives will likely be charged with redrawing the state and federal districts based on 2020 Census results.
Given the partisan nature of this process — let’s call it what it is: gerrymandering — the political balance of the Georgia General Assembly will play a significant role in giving one party an advantage over the other in future elections.
In other words, there’s no time for party organizations to rest. The voters are counting on you.
Newnan Times Herald on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day:
We’ve just come through a bruising political season, but - just ahead - is a reminder of what it is about our great country that unites us.
Sunday is not only Veterans Day, it is the 100th anniversary of its predecessor, Armistice Day. The Armistice ending World War I took effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month back in 1918.
The Armistice was a time to reflect on the great loss of American lives in fighting for freedom in Europe. The event also focused on peace - with the hope that there might never again be a “great war” that called on nations to sacrifice their rising generation in battle.
The U.S. World War I Commission is holding a number of events this year, celebrating the 100th year of the Armistice. ...
One of the World War I Commission’s projects is Bells of Peace. Churches - and any other organization with a bell - are asked to toll their bells 21 times at 11 a.m. It’s sort of a musical 21-gun salute to remember those who have fallen in battle. At the same time, each toll of the bell accompanies a prayer for peace.
Several local churches are planning to participate, and local veteran John Lager is working with other community organizations to promote Bells of Peace. To register for the event, visit the World War I Commission’s website: www.ww1cc.org/bells
The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was established by Congress in 2013 to provide education programs, public outreach, and commemorative events regarding the American involvement in that war. Honorary chairs are the living former presidents of the United States - George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Those former chief executives come from different generations, parties, philosophies and races, but all are part of this celebration of America’s willingness to play our part on the world stage and our joy when freedom and peace are the result.
After all the hyper-political messages of the past few weeks, we need a time to focus on our great country and those values that bring us together. Let’s ring Bells of Peace and celebrate the blessings we experience every day as Americans.