The numbers can appear daunting for voters. Filing week for elected office ended Friday, and 523 candidates applied for 383 offices that will appear on the ballot in Clark County beginning with the August primary. The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the November general election.
While the thought of deciding 383 offices sounds overwhelming, no Clark County resident will be tasked with voting in each of those races. The vast majority of positions on the ballot, in fact, are Precinct Committee Officers — local leaders for the respective political parties. Each voter lives in one precinct — and one Clark County Council district and one legislative district. You won’t be asked to vote for all of them.
So, with the fields being set for the running of the August primary, the most important thing is to offer kudos for those who threw their hats into the ring. Running for political office at any level can be challenging work. It also can open a candidate to scrutiny and rejection from voters. That being said, a look at last week’s candidate filings reveals some items of interest.
One is that eight candidates have signed up to challenge incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler as representative from the 3rd Congressional District. The list includes four challengers from Herrera Beutler’s own Republican Party, two Democrats, one independent and one who says their preference is the American Solidarity Party.
Dissatisfaction with Congress among the populace is palpable, but voters throughout the country in recent years have reelected approximately 95 percent of congressional incumbents who seek a return to office.
While the race for Congress will warrant attention, filing week brought some intrigue to races for Clark County Council and for county executive positions. For the first time, those races will be nonpartisan, with candidates not declaring a preferred party.
The change apparently did not increase interest from candidates, however. Incumbents for county assessor, clerk, prosecuting attorney and treasurer are running unopposed. Auditor Greg Kimsey, the county’s top elections official, is the only incumbent to draw a challenger.
The race to replace Sheriff Chuck Atkins, who is retiring, drew three candidates. Each of them announced their intentions long ago and have peppered the roadsides with political signs for months.
Three races on the ballot for county council drew a total of 10 candidates. Two of the positions are open seats, with incumbents not seeking reelection, and the third is held by a candidate who was appointed and took office this month.
But the point is not to count the number of candidates; the point is to begin reminding voters of the importance of the process. American democracy is under attack, challenged by lies about election results and threatened from within. The insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, continues to linger over our electoral system, representing the nadir of a vile philosophy that suggests violence is warranted if you cannot handle the truth about election results.
While the primary election is 10 weeks away, it is not too early for voters to think about defending our democracy with their ballots. As a quote from an unknown source, often incorrectly attributed to Thomas Jefferson, says: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
Those who are seeking office are worthy participants. Voters should follow their lead.