Advertisement

A non-voting candidate?

October 20, 1998

It may be the most puzzling story of Election 1998, at least on a local level. It's now been revealed that Mary Wilfong, the leading vote-getter in the Washington County school board primary, a business owner who's been active in many causes and non-profit organizations, wasn't a registered voter until she filed to run for office June 29.

Asked about it by a reporter who checked into all candidates' voting records, Wilfong, 61, said she had a "personal reason" for not registering to vote, adding that it was "one question I hoped I'd never have to answer."

She hasn't really answered it yet, which is something she needs to do if she really wants to be elected to the school board. After all, this is the group that oversees the teaching of American history and how government functions. It would be difficult, in our view, for a candidate to provide that oversight function if he or she didn't believe in the American system.

Advertisement

We've heard a lot recently about the media prying into the personal lives of candidates and would agree that there are some questions - why you attend a certain church, for example - that are a candidate's personal business.

But although who you vote for is a private matter, voting is a public duty. And members of the public, particularly if they're being asked to support a certain candidate, have a right to ask whether that candidate has done the hard work of democracy - the study required to distinguish the strong candidates from the weak. If a candidate opts out of that chore, not just once but for a lifetime's worth of elections, the public has a right to ask why.

We hope that Wilfong, who by all accounts is committed to the betterment of the community, will provide a more complete answer than we've had so far.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|