As we prepare to exit 2019 and enter 2020, one word will dominate much of local and national news. It won’t be used much, but it will be in the background of many stories that will appear in print, on the air and in the digital marketplace.
The word: Accountable.
The coming year will be one in which many prominent people will have to stand for re-election. After three years of praising them or condemning them, voters will pass judgment on these officials’ hopes of staying in office.
At the top of the list is President Donald John Trump. He is probably the most polarizing figure on the national stage since … well, former President Barack Obama. So much has been written about Trump’s tenure in the White House that it seems pointless to repeat it all here.
Closer to home are Gov. Jim Justice and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. Both are running for re-election to their final terms before term limits kick in.
What successes can Justice point to? There was the massive road bond issue approved by voters, and he has taken the needs of people traveling secondary roads to heart. Beyond those, where has he inspired people and made them think he is still the best choice for the highest office in the state? He faces a social media rebellion within his own party (which for now is Republican), but will a strong challenger emerge?
On the local level, is Huntington better off than it was three or seven years ago, when Mayor Steve Williams was elected to his first two terms? Since the current charter took effect in the mid-1980s, no mayor was been elected to three consecutive terms. Thus, Williams could suffer from voter fatigue, even if his record warrants a third term.
All 11 seats on Huntington City Council are up for election, too.
U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., must run again if she wants to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District in Washington, D.C. One odd thing about that race is that after the 2020 census and congressional reapportionment that will follow, there probably won’t be a 3rd District when the 2022 election comes around.
Likewise, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is running for another term.
And there are also all 100 members of the West Virginia House of Delegates, 17 members of the State Senate and county races, such as county commissioner, to consider.
There will be much to think about. Hundreds if not thousands of political ads designed to inform you or mislead you. Election signs blooming like flowers (or weeds) along the roads.
People will have to sort through an amazing amount of information, misinformation and disinformation, particularly among the offices higher on the ballot. It will all be very confusing, and the temptation to sit it out and let other people decide will be strong.
If the United States truly is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” then the people must do their part.
The filing period to run for office in West Virginia begins Jan. 13 and runs through Jan. 25. After that voters will have an idea of who is running and whom they should pay attention to.