WHAT should voters do when the incumbent and his challenger both leave much to be desired, as is the case in the Lexington County Council District 5 race between Councilman Bobby “Grave Digger” Keisler and Brian Duncan, a political newcomer?
Despite his tenure on the council, Mr. Keisler presents no clear vision for the county or reason for the people to stick with him rather than choose his opponent.
For his part, Mr. Duncan volunteered that his only reason for running was to give voters a choice since Mr. Keisler had not had opposition since first taking office in 2003. He then offered no strong argument for why he should be elected.
Mr. Keisler — quite proudly — makes it clear that he doesn’t respect the separation between the legislative and administrative arms of the county. While we understand his desire to help citizens, we were disturbed by his detailed explanation about how he routinely interferes with county departments and directly contacts county staff to get things done for constituents. The proper thing for him, or any council member, to do is to address concerns with the administrator, who works for the council and whose job it is to oversee day-to-day operations.
While Mr. Keisler is a fierce advocate for his district, he rightly asserts that a council member must put the overall needs of the county first. In addition, he embraces regional cooperation.
Mr. Duncan, like Mr. Keisler, says he wants to address crime in District 5 in an effort to make it safer and to encourage restaurants and other businesses to locate there. While he says there is a great need to improve the aesthetics of the district, he refuses to consider using one of the tools a county councilman has to help make such improvements: zoning and code enforcement.
We do appreciate his desire to use relationships with legislators in an effort to get them to address issues such as school district mergers for efficiency and the possible merger of duplicative special purpose districts. He also rightly chides the council for continuing to waste money — whether local, state or federal — on the dubious Pelion airport project.
This is one of those races that should have been decided during the June Republican primary but wasn’t, because Mr. Duncan was among the 250 candidates kicked off the ballot for not filing their election paperwork in the manner the law required; many filed the way state and party officials advised them to. But Mr. Duncan proved to be persistent and — admirably — worked his way onto the ballot as a petition candidate.
Still, this remains a weak race in which neither candidate distinguishes himself as the clear choice to help govern Lexington County. In instances where all things are comparatively equal as in the contest between Mr. Keisler and Mr. Duncan, the conservative approach is to stick with the incumbent.