On the Record
Politics is the science of influencing governmental policy. On the surface, it seems rather boilerplate and mundane — something that locally, is held in the confines of a city hall. But the sad truth is that “politics” goes well beyond “policy.” This is something I witnessed during Thursday’s Knox County Republican Party endorsement meeting.
Between 30 and 32 members of the Republican Party’s Central Committee gathered to hear pitches from candidates, or their representatives, to seal the coveted endorsement of the party. The night was largely controlled by state races. Endorsement required two-thirds support. Sometimes it happened on the first vote, sometimes the third vote and sometimes, not at all. No vote totals were ever announced so it’s unclear how close — or how far — some candidates were to securing an endorsement.
It was the process for the endorsement of the candidate for the Knox County Commissioner race that left me with a bad feeling that night. After the candidates finished their speeches (some a little longer than others), they were each asked if they were not given the endorsement if they would “honor the party” and back out of the race.
I was shocked. Admittedly that was a rather naive reaction on my end. I guess I should know enough about politics to understand these things happen, that there are those who put the party’s best interest over the best interest, in this case, of the county.
When asked why the endorsement meeting is held prior to the deadline to file candidate petitions, I was told by party chairman Chip McConville it was done “so candidates are making an informed decision about running with or without the support of the party.”
We need quality individuals to run for elected office. This endorsement process does nothing to encourage good people with the electorate’s best interest at heart to come forward, especially if they feel defeated before they ever really getting started. I do believe that as voters, we should be given the opportunity to hear every candidate, to ask them questions and to decide for ourselves who we believe would be the best person to help navigate our county into the future. If the endorsement process eliminates any potential candidate, as a county, we lose.
Petitions aren’t due until Wednesday and I hope everyone interested in being a servant to the people of Knox County will turn them in and run for office. It is the entire voting population of Knox County that should decide who will be the next Knox County Commissioner, not a small few who want to only back the candidate they believe is the most electable.
Samantha Scoles is the managing editor of the News.