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Paul Osborne

     Next Tuesday, March 19, is General Primary Election Day and there really doesn’t seem to be much interest in the campaigns so far. I’ve been editor of this newspaper for over a half century and over the decades interviewed candidates and covered campaigns extensively.

     I remember all of those election day nights of gathering vote totals, interviewing winners (and losers) and putting everything together in order to meet our press deadline the following early morning. Election Day always meant a big adrenaline rush for me, and other journalists I knew. I always watched the sun come up from the newspaper office the morning after the election because that’s where I’d been all night putting the Trib together with all the election results.

     The candidates were people that I knew and had written stories about for months leading up to the election and, on that one night, when the totals started coming in, everything was in the final minutes of finding out what the voters had decided. It was an exciting time for a newspaper editor but a lot has changed since those days (and nights).

     • OF COURSE, one big change has been the way votes are counted. Back in the “old days” of everyone voting on election day on a paper ballot, once the polls closed counting the votes was a long process. Today’s vote tabulation is a matter of minutes instead of hours, due to modern technology. The unofficial results of local elections are usually known long before the 10:00 nightly television news reports them. The results are also splashed across media platforms accessible by most people so I don’t stay up all night election night to gather results for the following day’s Tribune because they are about “old news” the day after.

     • THE LAST election I stayed up all night to cover ws the mayoral/city council election in 2003. That was the night that I won my first term as mayor and frankly, it was a little weird, staying up all night and putting the following day’s edition together to be printed early the next morning — because I was part of the results being reported. I didn’t have any problem locating the mayor’s race winner, because he (I) was at the newspaper office working on the Trib. The Herald & Review newspaper was also working on the election night results and, probably for the first and only time in this city’s history, the daily newspaper sent a photographer to the Tribune to shoot a photo of me typing the results of the mayoral and city council races to be used with their article about the mayoral race winner!

     That was a wild night and the next morning, shortly after the Tribune went to press, as the newly-elected mayor, I was scheduled to speak at the Chamber’s Business Expo at the civic center a few hours later and also be interviewed before the speech by WSOY’s Brian Byers — all without any sleep for a couple of days! Actually, I don’t remember any of the speech I gave that morning, but I got a standing ovation from the crowd! There is a photo of Brian Byers interviewing me before I gave that speech that hangs on one of the walls of our conference room. I just checked the photo. I appear to be awake!!

     • IT IS not only in Decatur and Macon County where there is a shortage of competitive races for this primary election. It is true elsewhere. I exchange papers with other publishers across the state and as I was looking through some of those editions recently, the stories often included a reference to “the lack of candidates” for some of the local offices up for election. About all of the offices up for election in many of those communities have only one candidate — or no candidate.

     As I’ve mentioned before the major Macon County offices, with the exception of the coroner’s office (which has three Republicans and one Democrat in the race) and the state’s attorney’s race, have incumbents that are not opposed. That fact shouldn’t reflect negatively on the incumbents because they are running and would accept the challenge of having an opponent. It is not their fault that no one wants to run against them! Or, maybe they are doing such a good job that no one wants to run against them!

     • ANOTHER ASPECT of the lack of candidates is that those who would normally think of running for office are sick and tired of “politics” and feel they can serve their community more effectively in the private sector. That attitude has been manifested to me in conversations with more than a few people who would make excellent public servants. So, those who do choose to run for public office, or who are serving in public office, deserve an extra special “thank you” for standing up and wanting to serve the citizens of Decatur and Macon County.

     • NOT WELCOME — Last week, I had an item about the coroner’s race in this column that stated: “Macon County Republican Women were scheduled to host all four candidates (including the Democrat candidate) at its regular monthly meeting last night (Tuesday).”

      That was the information that I had received but apparently, according to the Democrat running for coroner, Tiffany Hall, she was “uninvited”. Hall sent me the following email: “I wanted to reach out to inform you that the republican women canceled my speaking engagement at their forum last night after a man threw a verbally abusive fit online regarding my inclusion in the event as a Democrat.

     “Therefore, they decided to cancel my part in the event at the last minute simply saying it was unfair to their candidates to have me present. I’m only pointing this out so that any further print can reflect my cancellation rather than my lack of willingness to show up. Statutes require a party designation to run for Coroner, but my entire platform stands on bipartisan equity and there being no place for partisan politics in the role of Coroner. It’s important to me that people see that I’m willing to work with others and the republican women’s event was an opportunity I had hoped to have to present that sentiment.”

     • FRANKLY, I was a little surprised when the news release I received from the Macon County Republican Women, announcing the forum, that Democrat Tiffany Hall was invited to appear with Republican candidates Michael Burkham, Jeffrey Kashefska and Whalen Vancil. After all, the group has “Republican” in its name and is dedicated to electing Republican candidates to office. It was highly unusual to invite a Democrat to a Republican gathering.

     Although it is less stressful to not have an opposing candidate in a primary election, one drawback of that “luxury” is that you don’t get as much publicity as the candidates who have contested races. That’s why the Republican race for coroner is attracting more attention than any other county race. Not only that, if you make it through the primary election, you have created more name recognition from having your name out there in forums, signs and advertisements.

     None of the candidates for coroner are incumbents to the office so getting their message out is important — and the Republican who emerges victorious in the coroner’s race in primary voting, will have good recognition as he heads towards the general election in November. The advantage for Hall is that she didn’t have to spend any campaign money to win in the primary.

     • RUNNING unopposed in Macon County’s other major races are Diane Couri-Whithaus for State’s Attorney, Sherry A. Doty for Circuit Clerk and Cheryl Wise for Macon County Auditor. On the Democrat side of the balloting, Mary A. (Tangney) Eaton is running for re-election as Macon County Recorder. There will be no suspense in figuring out the winners in those races. Obviously, Couri-Whithaus, Doty, Wise and Eaton will win on March 19.

     • THERE’S A lot more stories and articles about Decatur people, places and events in this week’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune.  You can subscribe for the next 52 weeks at “Subscribe” at the top of the front page on this site.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning for the “City Hall Insider” — something I’ve done for the last 21 years.

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