Among elective office choices facing them Tuesday, voters will find that several local and regional contests present them with a lineup of largely ineffectual incumbents.
At the Douglas County Commission level, Democrat Nancy Thellman, a thinly disguised slow-growth advocate, is pitted against local businessman Frank Male, a Republican who has served on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce board. Male deserves an opportunity to make himself heard on the County Commission.
In the reconfigured 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Lynn Jenkins, seeking a third term, faces Topeka Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen, with Libertarian Dennis Hawver also on the ballot. A third term would give Jenkins some relative seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives and, although her accomplishments to date have been difficult to discern, the fact that she would be in a position to help Douglas County, Lawrence and its other cities, plus Kansas University, Haskell Indian Nations University and Baker University is sufficient to give her the nod.
That same logic extends to several of the local legislative contests. Democrat Sens. Marci Francisco and Tom Holland, and Democrat Rep. Barbara Ballard all seek re-election. Are they capable individuals and good neighbors? Certainly. Unfortunately, they’re in the wrong caucuses in Topeka to be able to help deliver positive results and/or bring about imaginative legislation. The Democratic party has been reduced to insignificance, its little influence depleted by the election losses of moderate Republicans. If our elected officials supporting local institutions, municipalities, projects and organizations are to be influential and produce results, they need to be in the dominant Republican arena. (Rep. Tom Sloan, who has no opposition in this election, could serve as an example to these others.)
For the good of Lawrence, Douglas County and the university, voters should favor Republicans Patrick Bengtson over Ballard, Ron Ellis over Francisco, and even Anthony Brown, who famously criticized Lawrence and KU, over Tom Holland.