The City of Gladstone may soon encounter a situation other area governmental bodies and school districts have faced over the years. When it comes time for Gladstone residents to cast their votes for city commissioners, there may be more positions open than candidates to fill them.
The Gladstone City Commission discussed the possible dilemma at its regular meeting earlier this week. In a nutshell, candidates have until Aug. 13 at 4 p.m. to submit paperwork to have their names placed on the November ballot for the city commission race. There are three seats open - currently held by Mayor Darin Hunter and Commissioners Joe Maki and Hugo Mattonen. So far, only Maki has filed to seek reelection.
If no one is elected to the commission seats, they would be filled by the newly seated Gladstone City Commission.
There's a twist. Commissioner David Olsen has indicated he plans to resign from the city commission in September. If this scenario holds true, only Maki and Commissioner Matt Gay would remain. The commission needs a quorum of members to conduct business - and a two-member commission is not enough. They would not be able to conduct city business - including appointing new commission members.
Unfortunately, the lack of candidates is a situation that is not new in Delta County. Over the past several years, positions ranging from school board seats to township posts have on occasion had no candidates file to run for them. In most cases, these seats were either filled by write-in candidates or appointments.
The bigger, disturbing issue with empty ballot slots is a lack of interest in seeking public office. Serving on a public body is not an easy task. It involves long hours, countless meetings, dealing with shrinking budgets, making hard decisions that significantly impact the lives of others... The list goes on. No decision made will make everyone happy. It can often be a thankless job that requires a great deal of personal sacrifice.
We owe local residents willing to serve in public office our thanks - and we need more of them.
If you are one of these people who are willing to serve the community, we urge you to seek out public office - in Gladstone and elsewhere. Residents need community-minded people in office that want to make our area a better place to live. We have those people here. They need to come forward.
The Gladstone City Commission deserves credit for having the insight to discuss this development early in the game.
The worst case scenario may never happen in Gladstone. Other members of the existing commission may file to seek reelection by Aug. 13. Other candidates may throw in their hats as well between now and then. Let's hope they do.
The fact remains, though, having no candidates for some elected positions in Delta County is not an uncommon occurrence. That's sad and surprising for an area as community-minded as ours. If you are qualified and willing to make the area a better place, we urge you consider getting involved. The job isn't easy, but community service can be a reward in itself.