After I lost the race for city council in my ward last year I received a warm letter from the president of that body, Kevin Kelly. He thanked me for caring enough about our democracy to take part in it by make the effort to run. That letter — now framed — occupies a place of prominence in my study, and indeed, his kind words made the effort all the more worthwhile.
On Saturday, my good friend C. Ellen Connally, a retired municipal court judge who also served as the first president of the county council when it was initially formed, ran for the chairwomanship of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. And although she lost to the very able Shontel Brown, our democracy — the participatory form of self-governance we live under — was the real winner.
My point is this: There should never, ever, be an election for any office in the land where there is only one candidate in the race. Never. It’s not only anti-democratic, but smacks of the form of government we see in countries where strong-arm tactics are used against anyone who dares to buck the establishment. And we’d better be damn careful or we’ll end up with that form of government here under Donald Trump. Clearly the checks and balances that were built into our Constitution are not working at present as they should, and the megalomaniac currently occupying the White House has clearly demonstrated that when his time in office is about to be up, he will resort to doing anything, and I do mean anything, to stay in power. Just watch.
Fannie Lewis — may she rest in peace — was fond of saying there were only two ways to run for office: “unopposed or scared.” So it’s no surprise that many candidates would rather not have any opposition. But they are wrong. That hurts the form of government we live under, and having a worthy opponent makes candidates work harder for their constituents — while they are running and especially after they win, that is, if they want to keep the job.
No doubt some folks are looking askance at C. Ellen for running, but they should be thanking her for the time, effort and money she expended to ensure that our democracy continues to work as it should.
And godspeed to Shontel Brown as she embarks on her second term as party chairwoman, I know that her intelligence and work ethic ensures that she will have great success in the position.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.