EDITORIAL: And they’re off

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

At least one thing can be said with certainty about the upcoming elections in Central Carolina: they’re off to an interesting start.

That was assured when Clay Aiken, the vocally gifted runner-up of “American Idol” Season 2, announced last week that he would challenge U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers for her post, which represents all or parts of Alamance, Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, and Wake counties.

Predictably, the jabs already are being thrown, with Ellmers quoted as saying that her openly gay opponent’s values are more representative of San Francisco than Sanford.

To be fair, Aiken is an easy target due to his celebrity status, and lack of political experience and savvy — even compared to others in the race within his own party. Nonetheless, we applaud the motive he has expressed of wanting to decrease the dysfunction in Washington and be accountable to the people of his home state — as opposed to a political party. He would hardly be the first hopeful with ties to Hollywood, and just ask fans of late President Ronald Reagan or movie star turned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — sometimes an entertainer can make a surprisingly astute elected official.

Other local elections have already grabbed the public’s attention, too. For example, an announcement that Lee Sheriff Tracy Carter would be vying for another term against political newcomer Justin Rosser sparked a vigorous social media debate, with some extolling Carter’s performance and others arguing that the time for change has come.

Several days before his candidacy could even be official, Tim Sloan of Pfizer made known his intention to oust Lee Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Parks from his post. The first day of filing brought still more activity, with Susie Thomas going for her second term as Lee County Clerk of Superior Court and Brad Salmon trying for the N.C. House District 51 seat, which comprises western Harnett County and most of Lee County. State Sen. Ronald Rabin also made it official Monday, filing to keep his seat in the 12th District.

Tuesday saw even more action, with former Lee County Commissioner Larry “Doc” Oldham filing to campaign for the District 4 spot on the board and Richard Hayes filing for one of the three seats on the Lee County Board of Education.

Ideally, the enthusiasm we’re seeing so far from candidates and would-be constituents alike will translate to a large turnout on Election Day.

And although several announcements have already garnered headlines, there’s plenty of time for more. The filing deadline doesn’t arrive until noon on Feb. 28. And bear in mind, this is only the primary election.

Let the games begin.