Thursday, November 09, 2006

Soil and Water: Fundamentally Undemocratic

Soil and Water: Fundamentally Undemocratic

Did you know there's an office that you can win with less votes than your opponent? Other than President of the United States, I mean.

SOIL & WATER CONS. BD. (Vote for 2)
Cindy Asmussen 16,407 37.28%
Terry Dahms 12,538 28.49%
Ed Ruppenkamp 11,747 26.69%

It's an obscure provision that I was only vaugely aware of: A county can't elect two soil and water commissioners from the same township. Asmussen and Dahms both live in the same township. In this situation, the candidate with the next highest number of votes wins.

In order to be elected, Dahms would have had to have finished in FIRST place. And Ruppenkamp was in a can't lose situation. Despite getting the fewest votes, he is elected.

There was virtually no information available on this race - believe me, I looked, it was a question I heard a lot. I got a lot of hits from people searching on it, because I briefly mentioned it at filing deadline.

If geographic diversity is so important on this board the Legislature should find another method, such as districts, to ensure it. In the meantime, Ruppenkamp should do the decent thing and resign. The commission itself would appoint a new member. It still couldn't be Dahms because of the township thing, and I wonder whether such an appointment is less democratic than an election. But at least it wouldn't be someone who was explicitly rejected by the voters. Sorry to nitpick but though this was legal it doesn't seem fair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I agree that the election method for Soil and Water is flaky, but to say Ed was rejected by the voters and should resign is a little extreme.

With fewer than two percentage points separating him from Terry, I'd say they both had a fair amount of support.

This is an unpaid elected position that few people understand or care about, and nobody is running who is looking for an ego trip.

We usually have to recruit (i.e. beg)people to file for this position. When I was elected as a commissioner three years ago, there were no declared candidates, and my last-second write-in campaign yielded 33 votes - more than enough to win.

I appreciate your talking up the JCSWCD - we can use the ink.

Dave Parsons