To run is to serve

May 19, 2014 By Steven R. Peck

Without a good field of candidates for voters, elections can't serve their full purpose

We now are in the early stages of the formal filing period for the primary election on Aug. 19. For some office holders, it is a mere formality. Time to run again.

For others, though, it is a time of temptation and uncertainty. What would it be like to run for office, to present ideas to voters, to compete against an opponent, to bear the tension of election day -- and then, perhaps, to serve in the office itself?

Take some advice from the newspaper office, where many dozens of elections and many hundreds of candidates have been covered. If you think you ought to run for office, then do it.

You might not be elected to the position you seek. But remember this: To run is to serve.

Elections are only as good as their candidates. Without a field from which voters can choose, without campaigning, without debating and discussing, without the diversity of ideas, personalities, backgrounds, qualifications, ages, genders, ideologies and platforms, there could be no legitimate elections, no representative government, no municipalities as we know them, no county structure as we know it, no State of Wyoming as we know it, and no America as we know it.

The fact that you feel you might have something to bring to the democratic process means that you do. That feeling is a qualification for a candidacy in and of itself.

Every election season we see the disappointment on the faces of candidates who have run and been defeated. There is an unavoidable sense of rejection. Expectations in an election are different for different candidates, but nobody runs for office without at least hoping to win.

There are more losers than winners on election day. That's a fact. But among the many lessons of politics is that there will be other elections.

Many is the candidate who ran once and failed, then ran again and succeeded. From John Adams to Abraham Lincoln, from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, from Ed Herschler to John Barrasso, and from Ron Warpness to Dennis Christensen, there are many notable proofs of the proverb "try, try again."

A well-tested rule of our electoral system is that being defeated actually can be part of the process of being elected. It just might take awhile.

There's a difference between running and serving, as the saying goes. But let's say it again: Running for office is public service as well.

What begins as an opinion, takes root through a conversation and flowers through an election can take permanent root as a policy or public program.

Elected officials are people first. So are candidates. And they are necessary. Think about filing for office this month.

To run is to serve.

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