The phrase, “Everything old becomes new again,” has been used to describe old musicians and performers from the Rolling Stones to Betty White. But in the context of this upcoming merger of city and county governments, it takes on a new meaning.
There are six candidates for mayor -- all have held elective office except one, David Cousino, and he’s run for mayor twice. The average age is 64.1. They are hardly spring chickens.
There will be nine commissioners and only two districts, District 3 (49.3) and District 8 (46.0), have candidates with an average age under 50. That’s somewhat of a misnomer, both districts have a single candidate in their 20s bringing the average down. The two districts with the oldest average age is District 6 (69.0) and District 5 (68.3). District 9 with one candidate comes next, and he’s 68.
Put another way, of the 30 candidates running for office only four are under 40, six are in their 50s, 16 in their 60s, three in their 70s and one in his 80s. Only five candidates are brand spanking new, having neither run for office or held elective office.
We will probably see the power of incumbency in a few of the districts. Name recognition is higher than the newbies and campaigning expertise also gives the nod to those who have run for office before. Since this will be a new government with different district lines, everyone, to a degree, will be on a learning curve. Only two candidates, Sam Hart and Charlie Bishop, have won a countywide election.
Having experience at the helm of government isn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly during a period of transition, but it should be lamented that more younger residents, particularly those in their 40s, have declined to offered themselves for public service. The pipeline will have to fill quickly. Under the consolidation legislation there are term limits. Eventually, whoever is elected, will have to go home There needs to be people waiting in the wings. Right now, backstage looks pretty sparse.