EDITORIAL FOR July 30-August 3, 2020
I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. If you are a voter in the City of Benson you probably have noticed that the part of your ballot dealing with the city’s primary election doesn’t offer many choices. In the 35 years that I’ve been covering the Benson City Council I’ve never before seen an election where you can pick the incumbents with hardly anyone else running. Apathy is running rampant in Benson. Quite possibly a major reason why there are so few candidates is that people thinking of running for council seats had second thoughts when they realized that in order to be named on the ballot you had to collect at least 48 signatures and while you were collecting them you might be exposed to a deadly disease.
Be that as it may, nobody is challenging Joe Konrad in his quest to become Benson’s next mayor. And nobody is running against Larry Dempster for a two year term on the council. That leaves three four year terms up for grabs. There are four candidates seeking those three seats but only three of those four candidates will be named on the ballot. Of those council candidates the one who is most widely known is Toney King who has been Benson’s mayor for the past several years. King was first elected to the council in 2001 and he has a lot of name recognition. I’d rate him as a shoo in. Another candidate for a four year term is Pat Boyle who first ran in 2014 but was elected in 2016. Boyle is well liked though not as popular as King. I think that Boyle should have a fairly simple time getting re-elected this time around. That leaves one more seat which is presently occupied by Nick Maldonado. Maldonado has an interesting political history as he’s been on the council for many years. What makes Maldonado’s council service really unique is that he hasn’t been elected since 1999. In the 1999 election Maldonado got in with only 345 votes. There was a very light turnout that year. Maldonado ran again in 2003 but lost. He tried again in 2013 but lost. So how does Maldonado manage to remain on the council? The answer is that whenever there is a vacancy on the council Maldonado invariably gets appointed to fill the vacancy. Why? Because his fellow council members know that Nick Maldonado is a reliable “yes” vote and he can be depended on to vote with the majority on everything. Maldonado is the ultimate yes man.
Hardly ever does Maldonado come up with any clever idea for solving Benson’s problems. But that suits the other council members just fine. They don’t want any arguments or dissension and they get no flack from Nick Maldonado. That’s why he keeps getting appointed to council seats.
The only other person running for a council seat is Jeff Cook. But Cook’s name will not be on the ballot. He’s running as a write-in candidate. Cook’s big problem is that he has been known to think for himself and the other council members don’t particularly like independent thinkers. Cook often expresses opinions that the other council members don’t appreciate. For example Cook has voiced some skepticism about the Vigneto housing project. He was first elected in 2013 but his independent thinking got him into trouble and he faced a recall election in 2014. He was elected again by a wide margin. If Cook’s name was on the ballot this time around he’d have no problem defeating Maldonado but as a write-in things are much less certain.
Another problem is that Cook doesn’t appear to have much of an advertising budget and he’s trying to get elected on the cheap. In my opinion Cook is the obvious choice. As one member of the council he won’t be able to make big changes in the way the city does business but he certainly has potential to liven things up at council meetings. Accordingly I strongly suggest writing in Jeff Cook’s name for a four year council term. Also remember that because Cook is the only registered write-in candidate, if you write in anyone else’s name your vote won’t count.
And please remember to either vote by mail or vote at the polling place next Tuesday. The polling place is the Benson School District office at 360 South Patagonia Street.
I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions you’ve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone else’s. If you’d like a copy of this editorial or you’d like to express your opinions go to the CAVE web site and select Editorials. We’re at CAVEFM.com. CAVEFM.com.