By NEMS Daily Journal
Today’s special elections drew 13 candidates for two races, a remarkable expression of interest and willingness on the part of people who know that as soon as the contest for District 6 senator in Lee and Pontotoc counties and Transportation Commissioner in the 33 counties of the Northern District are decided, a race for a regular four-year term will begin, with primaries in August and a general election in November.
The District 6 contest, with six candidates, will name a successor for the remainder of former state Sen. Alan Nunnelee’s term. He was elected to the U.S. House in November and sworn to office Jan. 5.
The Transportation Commission election was called when Commissioner Bill Minor died unexpectedly in November. Seven people seek that position.
No one expects or predicts a heavy turnout, but the importance of both offices is not diminished by the brevity of the remaining months in the terms.
The importance of every vote, in fact, has been heightened by the tragic assassination attempt against U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a constituent meeting in her Arizona district on Saturday. Six people died in the shooting rampage and 20 people were injured.
The suspect in custody, Jared Lee Loughner, may be mentally deranged. A Fox News report said he may have white supremacist ties.
A vote today would affirm the rule of law governing U.S. elections at every level – a right for eligible voters that must not be abridged by violence, fear or the irresponsible provocations expressed by some holding many extreme opinions – under protection of the First Amendment.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that not even the heinous attack in Arizona should stop elected officials from doing their duty, and voters should affirm that commitment.
It is also essential to heed the words of Pima, Ariz., County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik – who is overseeing the investigation – that “vitriol” in political discourse contributed to the incident and that Arizona has become “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
In a news conference Saturday night, Dupnik condemned the “atmosphere of hatred and bigotry” that he said has gripped the U.S., suggesting the 22-year-old suspect being held in the shooting was mentally ill and more susceptible to overheated messages in the media.
“People tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public … That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences,” Dupnik was quoted in a Washington Post article.
Vote today, in civility and respect, mindful that violence is evil.