The race for Lexington County Sheriff has gotten a lot of “buzz” in the last week or two. As people started to notice signs on the road, stories on social media and flyers in their mailbox, many people were asking what’s going on with the election but no one really had an answer. The overwhelming majority of people I talked to felt they didn’t know enough about all or any of the candidates to make a decision for the special election being held on March 3rd.
This started as a simple idea. I heard from people who felt everything from confusion to frustration as they tried to learn about the candidates. I think everyone can agree this is a very important election and everyone wants to make an informed decision. But sometimes it’s hard to find information beyond a campaign flyer and other people’s opinions without some digging, especially in smaller elections which are just as important if not more so than the “big” ones.
Two people told me they just “don’t have time to do all the research” and probably wouldn’t vote at all rather than make an uninformed decision. My inner voice gasped! I get it, though. Life is busy. People are busy. Priorities have to be decided. But what if we could help? What if we could make it easier to find information? What if we could make the puzzle fall into place just a bit? That was my light bulb moment that lead to the post below and the quest for “a good, old fashioned ‘here’s where they stand’ comparison with all sides represented”.
On Monday, February 9th, I posted on Facebook:
“As a general rule, I avoid talk of politics on here like the plague. But the election for sheriff is a few weeks away, and it’s important. I’ve talked to a number of people who still are totally undecided as to who to vote for and how to decide. I would like to ask y’all – if you could ask the candidates anything, what would it be? Please comment with only genuine questions. No campaigning. No baiting. Be nice! I plan to send the questions to each candidate and will post their answers on the website. I think what Lexington County needs is a good, old fashioned ‘here’s where they stand’ comparison with all sides represented (if they answer me). So – what would you ask?”
On Wednesday the 11th around 10am, I sent an email to all four candidates. The email contained a short introduction, a copy of our original Facebook post, your questions exactly as they were sent to us and a request for their response. “Would you please take the time to respond with an answer to each question? We would like to post your individual responses on our website. We believe local politics are extremely important and would like to help our readers make informed choices in the voting booth.”
What has been most fascinating to me over the last week is the interactions I have had with each candidate and conversations that have come up with readers and friends from this adventure as we’ve posted updates and interesting things on Facebook and Twitter. It really has been quite the interesting process and learning experience! (And please forgive my poor “live tweeting” skills. It’s way harder than it looks.)
My number one piece of advice is actually three-fold. Read about each candidate, go hear all the candidates speak and talk to them personally. Don’t let someone else’s decision be yours. Make an informed decision.
- Read all four of our articles on the candidates. Even if you think you know who you will vote for, read the others and try to read with an open mind. It won’t hurt. I promise. (Extra side note – I’ve found their answers very interesting, from the differences in ideas to the differences in writing styles and little nuances.)
- I strongly encourage you to attend another forum with all four candidates! There will be one held on Monday evening, February 23rd at Stone River in West Columbia. Yes, it is parallel to what we’ve done with our questions. But it’s different. You get a better feel for someone with tone and body language and in person. The experience of hearing them each speak on the same topics was extremely informative last week.
- Seriously, talk to them. Go to an event and speak to them. If you can’t make it to an event, call them! Ask them your questions. Voice your concerns. Get to know them. It’s a very important decision we are all making. Shouldn’t we all know who it is we are electing to a very important position? Shouldn’t we know what they think about topics that are important to us individually? Talk to them personally. I do recommend calling over emailing. Emailing and writing loses something because there is no tone, inflection, immediate opportunity for follow up questions and discussion. My opinion is you will have a more genuine conversation with someone in person or over the phone than you will online. I know they are all very busy. So yes, speaking with them at an event is ideal and should be the first option. But if it’s not possible, don’t be afraid to call. YOU are the voter. YOU are the important one in this equation.
Actually how much each vote counts was another piece of information I was surprised by. I did a quick bit of research. Lexington County has just over 161,000 registered voters. Special elections historically have a VERY low voter turn out rate, about 15% or so. So a rough estimate of the total number of votes that will be cast on March 3rd is 20,000-25,000. To win outright and avoid a run-off, a candidate has to win by 51% of the vote or higher. That’s only 10,000-12,500 votes based on those estimates. So yes, EACH of your votes counts in a big way! Make it a smart one.
Here are the links to the posts on each candidate:
I would like to thank Justin Britt, Ed Felix, Jay Koon and Dennis Tyndall each for their time and participation. I look forward to seeing each speak again at the next forum.
As always, I am eternally grateful to our readers! Thank you for your questions. Thank you for your time. Thank you for being part of this adventure. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’m happy to answer any questions. Thank you for keeping the comments classy! I know it’s easy to get heated on these topics. If you are at the next forum, say Hi! I’d love to see you Follow us on Twitter if you want to see my next attempt at live tweeting during the forum on Monday night.
Reprinted with permission from Lexington Mommy