Story last updated at 1:23 p.m. Thursday, August 22, 2002

Informed vote crucial Tuesday
Weeks of primary campaigning culminate Tuesday in the first of three elections between now and November. Voters will choose finalists for governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature.

Since there are only two candidates -- both Republicans -- vying to represent the Homer area in the state House of Representatives, Tuesday's primary is the Big Dance for incumbent Rep. Drew Scalzi and challenger Paul Seaton. Barring a write-in campaign for November's general election, it is also the Big Dance for voters, who will have no other opportunity to choose their representative.

Voter turnout in general, and in primaries in particular, has been abysmal in recent years -- less than 20 percent in the 2000 primary. With the state in a budget crisis, the importance of participating in the electoral process may never be more urgent. It is incumbent on voters, however, not only to participate, but to be informed.

Today's Homer News provides a last look at the two candidates for state House. In these pages, readers will find thumbnail sketches of the two men who are asking for our votes. While they hardly touch on all the issues prospective legislators will face, the Q&A's that begin on page 1 and the candidates' personal statements on page 5 give voters a final opportunity to go to the polls well-armed with information.

With a pair of such high-caliber candidates from which to choose, Homer-area voters will enjoy a truly enviable position when they make a decision in the House race. We need not look too far up the road to realize just how lucky we are to have the choices we have, both in the quality of the messages and the character of the men, who have done admirably in keeping their disagreements respectful and above the mire of mud-slinging and empty election-year platitudes to which too many campaigns stoop.

We may not all agree with Rep. Scalzi on every issue, but there is no denying that he is a hard-working, well-intentioned lawmaker who has shown no reluctance to roll up his sleeves and make courageous and often unpopular decisions about the difficult issues facing the state. He should be commended, in general, for what he has done -- and hopes to continue doing.

Challenger Seaton, who many thought was a one-issue person, has emerged as an articulate candidate with thoughtful and intelligent ideas for both the state and the residents of House District 35. The breadth of his vision and the depth of his commitment make him, too, eminently qualified to represent us in Juneau.

In addition to candidates, the Tuesday ballot will include a question about changing the way we vote. So-called "preferential voting" or "instant run-off" is a system gradually gaining favor in other states. A story outlining the details of this proposition appears on page 8A of today's Homer News.

There are compelling arguments on both sides of this issue. Supporters say Ballot Measure 1 would ensure majority rule, eliminate costly runoff elections and give voters greater influence at the polls. Opponents say preferential voting would be confusing and that instituting the system could be costly.

The validity of each argument can be surmised from the fact that various state chapters of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, issue-oriented voter advocacy group, are split on the issue.

Before casting a vote on this proposition, voters should consider their answers to the following questions:

  • Is the present system in need of repair?

  • If imposed, will this proposition simplify or complicate the electoral process?

  • The effectiveness of this proposition is dependent on an informed electorate. Is it prudent to assume that voters would willingly assume the extra responsibility of educating themselves adequately?

    As in every election, there's a lot on the line in this one. We urge all voters not only to exercise their right to vote Tuesday, but also to do so in an informed manner.

    Polling places are listed by precinct on page 5. Questions about precinct boundaries and absentee voting can be directed to the city clerk's office in Homer at 235-3130.

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