A month from now, Delaware County Republican voters could vote in significant changes to the party leadership. Regardless of one's party affiliation, this is undeniably a good thing.
Why? Because of what Paula Schermerhorn of the county board of elections said.
"All I've heard is that people want to get involved."
Too often, seats go unchallenged (or, worse, unfilled) in local elections. Not so in 2011, when a whopping 48 candidates will be seeking votes.
Seeking and holding public offices such as town supervisor, highway superintendent or clerk is not a particularly glamorous or rewarding process. The pay is minimal; the demands, often great. So we must applaud all those willing to take on these positions, to stake a claim in their communities and offer voters a choice.
Bolstering this year's large number of office-seekers, and making this year's vote particularly unusual, are numerous candidates for the Sidney Republican Committee. These positions rarely show up on a ballot at all, because it's rare for so many people to be seeking positions on the committee; this year, there are races in five of the seven Sidney districts that make up the committee.
Committee member Lisa French, who is also Sidney town clerk, attributed the crowded ballot to one factor: Sidney Town Supervisor Bob McCarthy.
"The people are trying to speak, and they are speaking loudly," French said.
McCarthy drew local and national attention to the town last fall when he sought to bring legal action against the Muslim Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani Sufi Order in Sidney Center over a cemetery it has established on its land.
Though the plan was dropped, the issue drew packed crowds to town board meetings, where tensions ran high. An October meeting attended by more than 100 people included chants calling for McCarthy's resignation.
While board meetings since then have quieted down, it seems some in Sidney may still want a change. And with two years left in McCarthy's term, seeking positions on the town party committee is, as French put it, a way for people to show their displeasure with the supervisor.
We don't know if French is right, that each of the seven people seeking a spot on the committee is doing so because of McCarthy. But whatever the reason, it's exciting to see so many people wanting to get involved in their local government. It will also give Republican voters in Delaware County an awful lot to think about during the next month.
We encourage all primary voters to take the time to learn about the candidates, and to go into the voting booth armed with information.