Individuals running for a seat on the Dagsboro Town Council had their candidacies officially recognized Monday evening for the town election on Saturday, Dec. 3. That gives them 12 days to convince voters to select them to govern the town.
That doesn’t seem like a lot of time.
Dagsboro is not alone in this short turnaround, but with the election right around the corner it reinforces this notion to us. Also, the distraction to voters and candidates due to the Thanksgiving holiday detracts from that campaign time as well.
So, what happens when turnaround is only 12 days for an election? Well, quite often it creates the incumbent vs. challenger notion to the voter. If things seem to be operating well in the town, voters are more likely to stick with what’s been working. If a voter feels things should be done differently, the challenger will get the nod.
Notice that the election becomes incumbent vs. challenger, rather than the merits of the individuals being the deciding factors.
The other element that rises when an election turnaround is this short is the rising of a popularity contest. The individual well-known around town is more likely to win because of that, potentially leaving the unknown candidate who might have terrific ideas and leadership skills in the dust.
Another reality to towns in our area is the limited exposure. Local newspapers come out once a week, giving exposure to the candidates one, possibly two, times before voters have to make a decision. The Coastal Point philosophy, for example, is to not run campaign letters the week of an election because nothing somebody says can be disputed before the vote.
Candidates should have a month to state their cases. Much longer, people lose interest. Any shorter, voters never get the opportunity to get an interest.