Voters keep status quo

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A majority of Suffolk voters are apparently happy with the status quo.

Six incumbents won re-election to their seats on the City Council and School Board on Tuesday. Two new members were chosen to replace retiring representatives on the two governing bodies.

The local elections bucked the national trend against incumbents. Election Day 2010 saw voters nationwide sweeping new members into Congress by the dozens, rivaling a decades-old record for the largest shift in party power ever to occur in the nation’s legislature.

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Especially in light of what happened in the national elections, the returning members of City Council and School Board might feel that they’re back in their seats because the voters want them there.

For a majority of the voters, that’s apparently the case. But we would encourage each returning incumbent to look closely at the vote tallies. Each and every vote for a returning member’s opponent or a write-in represents a Suffolk taxpayer who is unhappy with the way they’re being represented on Market Street.

Some of the incumbents eked out their victories by relatively slim margins. Others coasted to easy victories. All should take note of the numbers when they return to Council Chambers. Listen to your constituents. Return their calls and get things done for them.

Perhaps more telling than the ballot counts, however, was voter turnout. Fifty-nine percent of active Suffolk voters chose to stay home Tuesday, sending a message that they were not motivated enough — positively or negatively — by a single candidate or issue on the ballot, from the Fourth Congressional District seat to the state constitutional amendments.

We certainly hope more of Suffolk’s voters make an appearance at the polls in coming years. If they don’t, they’ll have to be satisfied with the status quo — on Market Street, in Richmond and all the way up to Washington, D.C.