Woody Hayes once noted, “There are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them aren’t good.” That little math formula applies to any number activities in our daily lives.
The other day a friend of mine told me that the mayor of his bedroom suburb was running unopposed. That isn’t uncommon in Cuyahoga County. We have 50+ municipalities in our county. We couldn’t possibly have enough qualified people to occupy the nearly countless elected and appointed positions of all of these fiefdoms. Once someone manages to get in, they stay in. Mayors, Councilmen, they either get wheeled out feet first or are led out in handcuffs. This is countywide. Eastside, Westside, South, if the harbor patrol were elected, they would serve for twenty years at a minimum.
So I bring you back to Woody Hayes. There are three reasons why an elected official continuously runs unopposed, and two of them aren’t good.
- They are truly loved and admired by the community
- Nobody respects the position enough to want it.
- Businesses and community leaders have already figured out how to get around the guy holding the job.
The last one is the most interesting. If a politician continuously runs unopposed, he/she has no need to raise a big campaign war chest. This is great for the bottom line. If you as a business can get what you want without having to invest in the politician through the donation/election process, you are ahead of the game and the envy of businesses locked in competitive districts. Nothing beats FREE.
Is there a cost associated with the time and energy a business has to expend to stroke the fragile egos of some local politicians? Sure. But that is negligible, at best. We are ramping up for the election season. Karl Rove’s Super Pac, Crossroads GPS is already running ads on TV. Those cost real money. Hiring a caterer to do an extra ribbon cutting is just an expensive lunch.
So the next time someone brags to you about being unopposed, ask yourself why. Is it #1? Is it #2? Or are you standing next to a walking, talking embodiment of #3?