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Friday, October 24, 2014
Editorial
Voters deserve more competitive contests

Every two or four years, we get to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they have or haven’t made, the actions they took or didn’t. It’s one of the greatest privileges we have in our democracy.

According to the system the Founding Fathers developed, if we don’t like the job an elected official is doing, we can pick someone else. In Nassau County, that wasn’t necessarily the case this year, as voters in several legislative districts were left with only one choice on the ballot — or, in some cases, only one viable choice.

The Democratic Party had no candidates in four districts — the 6th (Lynbrook, Malverne, eastern Valley Stream), 8th (Franklin Square, West Hempstead), 12th (Massapequa) and 14th (Garden City, Westbury, Hicksville). In the 4th District, Long Beach Legislator Denise Ford was endorsed by both parties. A Republican candidate for an open seat in the 10th District, in northwestern Nassau, and a Democratic challenger in the 17th, in the east, did not actively campaign.

Leaving voters without choices seems to contradict our system. We’d bet that even the uncontested incumbents would agree that winning by default isn’t the right way. Real public servants want to know that a victory on Election Day means they were the people’s choice, not the no-choice winner.

Earlier this year, the County Legislature redrew the boundaries of its legislative districts. The process, known as redistricting, is mandated after each census to account for population shifts among districts and to protect the one-person, one-vote principle.

Each district has roughly 70,000 residents. Subtracting those under age 18, there are still tens of thousands of registered voters in each district. Could it be that in several cases, the major political parties couldn’t find one person to run? Even in the Republican-heavy 6th, 8th, 12th and 14th districts, we can’t imagine that there isn’t a single Democrat who might make a good public servant — or at least a reasonable, qualified alternative to the incumbent. Did the Democrats even make an effort to find viable challengers?

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