Confehr: Silly season in full bloom

Friday, January 8, 2010

Despite old man winter's arrival with gusto this week, it's becoming clear to partly cloudy that the silly season is upon us.

We're so glad.

Let the politicking begin.

Still, there have been some sensible decisions by a couple of fathers with young children to raise, so those guys' decision to drop off the county commission is a blessed reason to believe their departure really is for family reasons.

The political fact of life associated with their decision creates a vacuum, sort of a low pressure area, that will draw candidates to the election office.

It's happening in more than a couple of county commission districts, and the flip side of that coin happened last year at one of the foremost business associations.

In the midst of his second term as president of the Marshal County Chamber of Commerce, it was clear that Chad Fox didn't want to succeed himself again.

"The Chamber can take up a lot of your time if you do it properly," the Chamber's new president, Melody Spence, said recently when asked about one aspect of her presidency.

More than a couple of county commissioners realize these kinds of positions consume time that might otherwise be devoted to family and/or business, although not all are sitting out the Aug. 5 election.

And still, Marshall County folk still put family first.

"Berrie Pate was to succeed Chad Fox after his second term, but she married Ty Smith and that left the position open in December," Spence said. "She wanted to focus more of her time with that."

Without someone to succeed Fox, the Chamber's board looked around and nobody was power hungry. Melody said she wasn't either but felt it needed to be filled.

"The Chamber is very important," she said.

The Chamber's new president was selected through "'a process of elimination,' as Chad likes to say," Melody Spence said. "It was kind of dropped in my lap..."

Meanwhile, individual businessmen who happen to be members of the Chamber of Commerce here might become more interested than usual in the next county election.

It's been said by more than one observer and participant that the 2006 election focused on the landfill and stone quarries: One old and another that's since been approved.

The time-line on a couple of public forums for the state decision on whether Cedar Ridge Landfill should be expanded takes the issue to the center of the county election campaign and possibly beyond election day. It's conceivable that early voting will have started before a final decision is made on expansion of the landfill.

That sure looks like the election could become a referendum on landfill expansion. Not long after the August 2006 election, a newly-elected commission voted 11-7 to let Waste Management take its application for an expansion permit toward the state.

At a Lewisburg public forum on landfill expansion, a businessman made it clear that he thought the cost of waste disposal is something that private enterprise must consider.

Could a member of the Chamber of Commerce act on their own in the political arena to deal with business costs?

Silly question.