The Greens’ McCarthy should be given a shot
As Gary Lindstrom leaves the Summit County Board of Commissioners to become state representative for District 56, the Summit County Vacancy Committee, led by the Democrats, will decide by July 11 who to appoint to fill out the remainder of his term. While congratulations to Mr. Lindstrom are in order, and the county will be well served by him in his new position, residents should be wondering – why are the Democrats choosing his successor?While Mr. Lindstrom is now a Democrat, over time he’s been a Republican and an Independent. He quit the GOP in 1999, midterm. In 2002, he ran for re-election as an Independent.In fact, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans fielded a candidate in that election. Since Lindstrom ran as an Independent, perhaps that independence should be recognized by drawing straws to fill his seat on the commission; that would certainly be true to his spirit. Only one party did field a candidate in the 2002 election, the Greens, in the person of Justin McCarthy. If anyone has a legitimate claim as Mr. Lindstrom’s replacement, it’s Mr. McCarthy, on behalf of the Green Party of Summit County.As a registered Democrat, it’s hard to suggest another party choose the next county commissioner, especially since once seated, it’s likely that person will be able to keep the job until term-limited, since many good people from any party won’t run for office. A small irony, of course, is that while the Democrats didn’t field a candidate for the job, many have expressed an interest in being appointed to the position. And therein lies the crux of the reasoning why McCarthy at a minimum, and the local Green Party in general, should get to fill the Lindstrom position – they were the only ones to throw themselves into the electoral fires in 2002.Over the years, I’ve been a delegate to state Democratic conventions, stuffed envelopes for my conservative Republican state representative brother, driven voters to the polls in support of a liberal Democrat representative maligned by a Front Range slur campaign, worked the phones election day for many candidates (including two of those seeking appointment to the county commission), and much more. The common thread is that anyone running for office deserves help. Anyone crazy enough to devote the time, effort and money deserves some level of effort on our part, whether it’s a small cash donation, handing out flyers or at least being well informed on what the candidates stand for. Running for office in this country has become a hazardous endeavor, and if we want a good selection of elected officials, Republican or Democrat, Green or Independent, we should support new parties and individuals within those parties interested in participating in the process. Running for office is akin to declaring open season on yourself; every uninformed crank with an opinion will take every opportunity to take a shot. And when the opportunity, like this one, presents itself to acknowledge their efforts, the opportunity shouldn’t be squandered.Anyone with a sense of fair play might agree that the only other person who actually campaigned for the seat should at least be offered the job. McCarthy did, after all, receive 40 percent of the vote. In the 2002 election, it was, frankly, a challenge to draw definitive differences between McCarthy and Lindstrom, as an Independent and a Green. If the goal is to replace Lindstrom with someone of similar views, then appointing McCarthy would indeed be a logical choice. Certainly, the county needs an active, informed, enthusiastic commissioner, and not a bench warmer or place marker until the next election. The Greens worked hard in the 2002 commissioner election; now they should get to reap the rewards.Columnist Marc Carlisle writes on Thursdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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