COMMENTARY: Can't Wait Till It's Over

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

The end is in sight for the 2010 County General Election. Hallelujah!

Come Thursday night it will all be over, and we will know who will hold most of the top positions in Cannon County Government for the next four years.

I for one can't wait until its over, and I hear the same feeling expressed by candidates and voters alike.

I am feeling a little pressure myself as the big day grows closer, and I'm sure the candidates themselves are having restless days and sleepless nights.

While most of the races have been free of mudslinging, there have been some exceptions.

One of the most egregious acts of dirty politics was attempted by a representative of an incumbent.

This person called up our newest writer, who has only worked here a few months and has not covered the elections, and requested a meeting.

Nothing unusual about that, except for the place this person wanted to meet him.

It was not at our office, at the office of the incumbent, his home, or at a local eatery. It was in the parking lot of Stones River Hospital.

Although he thought it was a strange request, our writer agreed to go there. Upon arrival, he pulled into a parking space next to where the person was parked.

This person motioned for our reporter to get out of his vehicle and get inside the passenger side of the car he was driving. When our reporter did so, this person went over to the reporter's vehicle, opened the door, and placed a folder on the seat.

When the meeting was over and our reporter returned to his car, he looked at what was inside the folder and found information which was completely irrelevant to current events or the incumbent's opposing candidate.

We did not do a story based on this out-of-date information. Doing so would have likely opened us up to a lawsuit. Notably, none of this information was included in any of the incumbent's advertising.

• A candidate in another race disappointed me by turning to what I thought was an excessively negative and nasty way toward one of his opponents. I spoke with that candidate, and they agreed some of the statements may have gone a little too far. I was pleased to see they have backed off somewhat on the charges.

• I was fed information about one candidate who is facing lawsuits in the tens of thousands from financial institutions for money owed. I have not done a story on that — not because I do not think it is newsworthy, but because I do not routinely report on suits involving debt.

• Our newspaper has been the subject of malicious and unfounded comments by posters on a Web site. In this day and age I guess that goes with the territory, where people seemingly say anything they want without revealing there identity.

People who read comments on Web sites should keep in mind that its easy to behave in a cowardly manner when you can keep your identity a secret. It's also easy to lie when you don't have to worry about people knowing who you are, and why you might be motivated to spread falsehoods.

That said, a person who engages in such actions usually reveals their true selves in other ways, and I'm pretty sure I know who the pathetic punk is who has taken delight in trying to slander the Courier. If I am correct in my belief as to who this person is, needless to say I will never set foot in their local business again.

Changes Coming To County Commission

Regardless the outcome of the County General Election, changes are coming to the Cannon County Commission.

It is already known that two persons will not be back on the board when the new one is sworn in on September 1.

Rebekah Parton of the Fourth District and Greg Mitchell of the Third District will not be back.

Parton is not running for re-election to the seat she holds to make a bid for county executive, while Mitchell is seeking the Register of Deeds position.

Another, Bob Stoetzel, previously announced he is not seeking re-election because he plans to move from the Fifth District in the near future. However, Stoetzel name is still on the ballot, and he could be voted back into office.

If that is the case, Stoetzel says he will continue to serve and resign if necessary if and when his relocation plans are finalized.

If that doesn't happen, Parton, Mitchell and Stoetzel will all leave their own unique voids to fill on the commission, and one collective one.

I did not get to observe them in action as county commissioners very long, but from what I could see, in my opinion, they performed well in that role.

They did not take things at face value. They challenged the county executive and department heads about spending. They asked for explanations and answers about contracts the county has with various service providers. They did their own research.

Government at all levels needs to have a checks and balances system, and that is one of the key responsibilities of a commissioner. Parton, Mitchell and Stoetzel took that to heart.

You Really Should Vote

I will be the first to admits that I have not voted in every election I've had a chance to during my lifetime.

The reasons (excuses) have been multiple and varied: I didn't have time. I didn't care about the the people running. I didn't think my vote mattered. The dog ate my voter registration card.

Really, though, there is never a good reason to not vote.

Local voters will find it to be a rather simple process. I went the first day of early voting and it took around a half hour. Twenty minutes of that was due to some initial malfunctions with the voting machines.

Once the problem was fixed, I was in and out of there pretty quickly.

If you haven't already done so, go vote Thursday. It really does matter, because in the end it is the only effective way of holding government accountable.