Daily Bread for 12.4.22: Elections, Candidates, and ‘Open Seats’

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 4:21 PM for 9h 11m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 87.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1872, the crewless American brigantine Mary Celeste, drifting in the Atlantic, is discovered by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was only slightly damaged. Her master Benjamin Briggs and all nine others known to have been on board were never found.

It’s the beginning of another election season in Wisconsin. In Whitewater, there are elections upcoming for four common council seats, three school board seats, and the city’s municipal judgeship. 

Incumbents for these city or school district positions have until later in December to file papers of non-candidacy, and incumbents and challengers have until early January to file papers should they choose to run in 2023.

The final slate of candidates is always uncertain, as some candidates may wait until the last minute to file, and some who have filed may change their minds.

One small point crops up every year concerning the Whitewater Unified School District. The district’s Central Office is in the habit of describing any seat that is up for election as an ‘open seat.’ That’s not what an open seat means — an open seat is by definition one in which no incumbent is running for re-election, so that the position will be certain to have a new officeholder after the election.  

This might seem like a minor point, but each year it causes confusion in Whitewater about whether school board incumbents are running for re-election. Perhaps they are, perhaps they’re not, but there are no open seats for school board or other races until incumbents file papers for non-candidacy. The mere fact of an election does not create an open seat. E.g., Open seats in state legislative elections, 2021 or Bonneau, Chris W. “Vacancies on the Bench: Open-Seat Elections for State Supreme Courts.” The Justice System Journal 27, no. 2 (2006): 143–59 (‘This article examines the dynamics of state supreme court elections in which no incumbent is present; that is, open-seat contests.’) 

In any event, this libertarian blogger will wait to see what the final roster of candidates offers the community. 

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