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The primary's heroes

September 14, 2006

For those candidates who weren't successful in Tuesday's primary election, today is a day of reflection, and in some cases, of sorrow and disbelief. As those who didn't prevail wonder whether it was their message that didn't connect with voters, or whether something as simple as the color of their yard signs turned people off, we have a few words on the subject.

Everyone who ran in Tuesday's primary, win or lose, did their fellow citizens the great service of giving them a choice. There is nothing worse for incumbents than uncontested races.

Without opposition, office-holders can begin to believe that they are too wise and too beloved for anyone to challenge, when the truth may be that would-be challengers analyzed the race and decided that the time and expense involved in campaigning weren't likely to yield a victory.

Beyond that, the primary election stirred the public's interest in some issues crucial to Washington County's future. From the candidates for county commissioner, we've heard many idea on how to make sure the next wave of growth is orderly.

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From the candidates for school board, we've heard suggestions on everything from building new schools to dealing with disruptive students. All of the ideas weren't well thought out, but they served as a starting point for a debate which should continue between now and November, on the following subjects:

Where is Washington County headed in the next century? Is the county doomed to see its farms gobbled up by suburban sprawl, its business parks filled with companies paying $12 an hour and the children of local families forced to leave because they can't find homes here that they can afford?

This is important stuff, and those who contended in the primary election campaign and who took the time to share their views in forums and door-to-door campaigns, did citizens a big favor by focusing their attention on these matters.

They are many things, but they are definitely not losers. Without their efforts, all of the county's citizens would have lost the opportunity to witness a contested election.

For that, those candidates who didn't prevail deserve our deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks.

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