ON Kilter: How well do we know our candidates?

OPINION – After what must have been some consternation, local talk show host and columnist Bryan Hyde, has chosen to withdraw from the race for Mayor in his home city of Cedar City.

As I read the announcement in STGNews Thursday, I, myself, could palpably feel the relief that must come after making such a tough decision. His pronounced desire to get involved politically was ultimately tempered with the maturity and prudence of a man with a family to provide for.

The reality of those things took a front seat to his desire to get involved politically on a different level than he already is.

That may well be the singular reason he might have been a good man for the job.  For now, whether or not he is that will remain unknown, but what this brings to mind for me as we again enter an election cycle here in St. George, is this: Apart from what we are told in campaign speeches and debate rhetoric, just how well do we know those running for office here? And does it matter?

You see, I have never actually known someone on a personal level who has run for any office, as I know Mr. Hyde. I have a couple of acquaintances who have run for offices, but much like most people, I get to know candidates by way of their campaign and looking as best I am able at what they have done with their lives up to that point – or perhaps I should say what they have done with their lives that is made available to me to see?

Isn’t it odd that we cast our votes on such minute data, giving people we barely know the privilege and the authority to govern us? That’s right, govern us.

We take at face value for the most part who these people are and their motives for running and, apart from any scandalous mudslinging taking them down, we accept their candidacy as legitimate and forthright and we make our choices.

Well, some of us do at least.

The last mayoral election cycle here in St. George produced a paltry 20 percent turnout give-or-take of voters which hardly constitutes a majority win or loss for any candidate.

Were one to be brutally honest, it could be said that this statistic creates a gross misrepresentation of the will of the community. How can a candidate honestly believe they represent everyone when only a fraction of them vote?

But make no mistake, the blame for this belongs upon the abstinent voter.

So, since the same people seem to get re-elected over and again by the same people, what would this year’s outcome reflect were say, 50 percent of the city’s populace to vote?

And therein lays the call for action.

Simply stated, what would it require for us to get that number up significantly?

And, as an additional call to action, what would it require to get the citizenry here to engage our incumbents and candidates during the election to find out just who they are?

What would this election look like if not only 50 percent voted, but the same 50 percent showed up to the debates and other public forums? What could be gleaned from what the candidates had to say if more than just the retirees of SunRiver showed up to listen? (All due respect to those retirees, they set an example to be followed.)

“Show me what you have done and I will know who you are,” it is often said.

As the cycle begins, we as a community need to roll up our sleeves and get more than just the play-by-play as the candidates lay it down for us but, this year perhaps, we can get something a little different.

Perhaps an additional call to action is for we the citizenry and the local press to do more than watch with moderate interest the play-by-play, but diligently get to know the candidates, find out not only who they say they are and what they have done, but what they may or may not want you to know about who they are and what they have done.

That’s how elections work in much of the rest of the country where consensual journalism is not readily tolerated and communities engage their officials more actively and vigorously.

Note I said vigorously. Confrontation is something that is somewhat frowned upon in this community. Confronting someone or something head on is incorrectly construed as negative when in point of fact, rigorous discussion and the calling out of improprieties and inconsistencies of those entrusted with authority is actually the duty of a good citizen. It is also incumbent upon those entrusted with authority to know this and capitulate to the rigorous inquiries of those they may preside over. It is core to the relationship of trust between the leaders and those they lead.

I know Mr. Hyde. I have witnessed his character first hand and can say with no fear of reservation he makes a fine candidate for mayor should he choose at some point to drop his name in the hat again. I believe in earnest his motives would be in the best interest of the people.

I want to say the same for those running here. Don’t you?

It’s time get to work and get about the business of seeing to it that the best men and women for the job represent us here in Utah’s Dixie.

See you out there.


Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.