EDITORIAL: Too many races are already over

York Dispatch Editorial Board

In many cases, the election is all over but the counting.

Not the primary election, the municipal election. The November election.

Barring write-in campaigns, many of the races in last week's primary decided who will hold offices around York County.

There's only one mayoral race in the county that's still contested — thanks, Red Lion! Even in York City, incumbent Mayor Michael Helfrich won't have an opponent on the ballot — no Republicans ran in the primary, and no other Democrats did, either.  

In races for borough councils, township boards of supervisors, constables, tax collectors, judges of elections, school district directors and more, only voters in one party had an opportunity to cast a vote for someone to fill the posts. 

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In five of the six elections for magisterial district justice, the incumbents crossfiled, and their names were on the ballot alone for both parties' primaries. In the sixth race, District Justice Linda Williams faced two opponents in the Democratic primary and one in the Republican, and in the unofficial results, she lost the Democratic primary by a single vote and will have an opponent in November.

Even for the big, countywide races, one party is completely missing. For the four county offices up for election this year, district attorney, county controller, coroner and recorder of deeds, not only did no Republicans run against the four incumbents, no Democrats even tried to get on the ballot for November.

"An engaged citizenry is the fuel that drives our democracy. Service is an honor above all and I'm grateful and humbled that so many York Countians have put their faith in me," District Attorney Dave Sunday said on Twitter.

He's right, an engaged citizenry does drive democracy. An engaged citizenry. That means not just one party, not just one name on a ballot. A diverse citizenry, a citizenry that cares about the offices that are open and wants to have a voice in the local governments.

It's not just one party at fault. While no Democrats bothered to run for the county offices, there are several boroughs where the mayor will be from one party and the new borough council members from the other. Many of the new judges of election will be Democrats, on the ballot unopposed in November even in places where only Republicans ran for every other office.

Citizens at the poles cast their votes in the primary election in York County, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It's not the fault of the people who did care enough to run, either. Several borough councils, township boards and school boards will have to be filled by appointment after only one person ran when as many as four seats were open.

Yes, the municipal elections in York County are unwieldy. County races, district judges by region, boards in each of 16 school district, multiple officials up for election in 72 separate municipalities. With literally hundreds of offices on the ballots, there will be some that go unfilled.

But those hundreds of offices hold value for all the people who live in each of those 16 school districts and 72 municipalities.

It's hard to drum up a Democrat to run for mayor of Franklintown. It's hard to find a Republican to run for the York City school board. It's hard to find enough people to fill the seats on the Penn Township board of supervisors — where one Democrat and no Republicans will be on the ballot for the two available seats in November.

But especially in Pennsylvania, where only people who are registered in a party can vote in that party's primary, voters deserve to see more than one name on the ballot in November.