Local Democrats will run only one candidate for the two open Township Committee seats this fall, as no one showed interest in replacing departed candidate Nicholas Toth on the ballet.
“No one came forward so we’ll go ahead with the one candidate and support her,” said Barry Bendar, Democratic municipal chairman.
Finding candidates has always been a struggle for the Democrats in Lacey, Bendar said. This will not be the first time the party ran one candidate in a two-seat race and 2009 was a lost year, as the Democrats had no one.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve gone through this,” he said. “Finding a Democratic candidate in a town like Lacey Township is a hard thing to do.”
A Republican majority has ruled Lacey Township for more than a decade.
“When you a win a majority once in 20 years, people start to think what chance do they really have,” he said.
Although, Democrats and current committee members Sean Sharkey and Helen DelaCruz took the election in 2010, bringing the party one step closer to a majority.
With two seats open, this year’s election has the potential for a party power shift as Democratic newcomer Shawn Judson takes on Republican incumbents Mayor Mark Dykoff and Gary Quinn. Republicans currently hold a 3-2 advantage on committee.
In addition to a lack of confidence that the Democrats can get elected, it’s difficult to find someone who is willing to put their name out there, Bendar said.
“Campaigns aren’t the cleanest,” he said.
When the Lacey Democratic Club set out to recruit candidates from January through April, no one turned up. An event was even held at the library to attract candidates.
“No one was really interested at that time,” Bendar said. “At the thirteenth hour, Shawn Judson showed up and was put on the ballot.”
Because she was selected so late, the typical process — such as being introduced and interviewed by the municipal county committee — wasn’t followed and new bylaws will be developed for future guidance in such a situation.
“At that time, Nicholas also decided to run,” Bendar said, although he was also applying to graduate school.
to further his education at Cornell University. The party had just a couple weeks to find a new candidate before the county’s deadline to file on Thursday, Sept. 13.
Each member of the municipal county committee were notified and directed to look out for anyone who would be interested.
No one showed interest, including Gary Vaccaro, who ran against Republican incumbent David Most in 2011 and lost.
“Truthfully, it didn’t surprise me,” Bendar said, adding that it’s better to have one candidate on the ballot than adding another who may not be capable. “I would prefer no candidate rather than a candidate who can’t do the job. Beyond party affiliation, it’s important to have people on the dais who are competent.”
But Bendar doesn’t necessarily believe this is a lost cycle, he said.
“I have my personal opinion about the odds of winning but to take the majority, all we have to do is win one seat,” he said.
Shawn Judson is a "brand new name," which Bendar sees as a positive, he said. Although, she has never been in politics.
"She has some things to learn but she's picking them up quickly," he said. "She has leadership experience as being a shop steward for the union. She's fairly tenacious. Those are good qualities."
Moving forward, the main goal of the municipal county committee will be to attract voters and future candidates, Bendar said.
Out of more than 18,000 registered voters in Lacey Township, there are approximately 3,000 registered Democrats, many who vote on a regular basis, he said.
“That’s the focus of the committee beyond the campaign. We’ll be out there banging on doors, shaking bushes,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of voting, you have to come out and participate. Hopefully the work we do that way will grow the Democratic Club and the municipal county committee and we’ll get people interested.”