Columbia County meets an important period in its history this week as qualifying begins for public offices.
Party qualifying for two County Commission seats and the commission chairmanship will be held during the next five days, and non-partisan qualifying will take place in Grovetown for the special election to fill the city council seat of the late Margie Adams. Candidates for all four posts on the legislative delegation also must qualify in Atlanta this week
Non-partisan candidates for a county school board seat and the newly created school board chairmanship will qualify in June.
Unless there are some surprises in potential legislative challenges, it looks as though the focus of competition this year will be on the Republican primary for the county commission chairmanship.
Incumbent Ron Cross is expected to qualify this week. Likely challengers are retired banker Andy Kingery, who lost to Cross four years ago; political newcomer John Hayes; and former GOP chairman Alvin Starks.
Whatever their differences, there is one thing all candidates share: A willingness to sacrifice their personal lives and reputations for the opportunity to represent their fellow citizens.
The job is made tougher by the wide perception that all politicians are crooks, and only get into politics to get access to the public cookie jar. It doesn't help that in the past few months, two local politicians have gone to prison for stealing from the public, and a third goes on trial this week.
Deserved or undeserved, the perception is strong enough that anyone considering a run for office should honestly examine his or her record. If there are any embarrassing blemishes, the would-be candidate had better be prepared to own up to them early or risk an ugly unveiling at a less-favorable time in the campaign.
The ugliness of politics, in fact, probably scares away more good potential candidates than bad. It takes a brave soul - and a tough hide - to run for public office.
The process begins this week. Columbia County is a wonderful community; may all of the candidates remember that their first duty is to keep it that way.
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