People understand that checks and balances in government are a good thing. They mean no one person or political party gets everything they want. That protects us all as voters. But there is another check and balance — based on accountability, competence and communication. And it’s up to us — the voters.
Today, Jasper County is at the center of a national embarrassment because of a lack of those same qualities. There is no accountability or competence in the office of the Jasper County Auditor. And, true to form, any communication from our chief election officer is so one-sided as to be meaningless.
How do we fix this? Let’s go back to checks and balances. Not from one government official against another. I mean in the most simple way: let’s make these elected officials once again compete for their jobs, and to justify their taxpayer funded jobs the old fashioned way — by winning contested elections.
Here’s why this is so important. Our county auditor has called the integrity of our elections into doubt by his inability to do his job. We will never know for certain who won our election for the United States Congress because every time the Auditor gets involved, the water gets even muddier.
But on the same day that our chief elections officer was failing at his only job duty — one that has been on the calendar for literally four years — he was elected unopposed for another term. What did he do to earn that office? Nothing. I’ve won and lost elections — and believe me, having opponents every November, made me a better public official. So, let’s make sure every officeholder in our county has an opponent — let’s put our own checks and balances on the ballot in the future, in every election.
This isn’t a partisan statement. I’ve been an elected Democrat and am now a Republican voter. And, while the county elected offices are partisan, we need to return the offices of Auditor and Treasurer being much less political and much more professional. We can do that by making those officials compete for our votes. If you’re a Democrat, you should think about the primary. If you’re a Republican, put your name in. Voters in our communities deserve a real choice in our elections.
If we do that, we can make Jasper County a model for the state. That’s something we can all be proud of.