Democracy in action is a beautiful thing. Tuesday’s general election reminded us of that, with yet another record voter turnout and the passion Lincolnites expressed for their preferred candidates.
A new mayor and three new City Council representatives, along with one reelected incumbent, will be sworn in at the May 20 meeting. With so much turnover this spring, the transition will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Lincoln politics – one, we hope, that’s civil and productive.
Honestly, Lincoln has much reason for optimism following the election.
Sure, one can quibble with a 36% turnout Tuesday. Lamenting that nearly two-thirds of the city’s registered voters failed to cast a ballot would be justified.
However, it’s worth noting that 2019 set new highs for participation in both the municipal primary and general elections – which have typically seen low interest – and that’s progress. Such interest and involvement indicates Lincoln boasts strong civic health.
Now, regardless of whether citizens’ candidates were the victors or vanquished, it’s time for Lincolnites to put the same energy that went into volunteering, door-knocking and writing letters to the editor in support of campaigns into working across the partisan divide to ensure Lincoln continues to thrive.
That same advice applies to our elected officials, both new and returning, as well.
When candidates came before the Journal Star editorial board for endorsement interviews, we asked all of them how they’d embody the ideals of the officially nonpartisan offices they were seeking. In various ways, each gave a two-part answer that touted his or her ability to find common ground and reiterating that the solutions Lincoln needs transcend party bounds.
The rubber now meets the road, and we expect these officials to make good on their promises. It would be naive to think partisan ideologies disappear entirely once council members enter City Hall, but our hope is that city leaders’ ability to solve problems defies party labels.
Yes, Democrats maintained their grip on the mayor’s office, which they’ve held since 1999, and flipped a vacant seat to increase their majority on the City Council to 5-2. We encourage them to work toward consensus with the two Republicans rather than running roughshod over the minority party.
As we’ve frequently written in this space, the U.S. has a two-party system because neither has a monopoly on good ideas or solutions to our problems. In a purple city like Lincoln, striking a reasonable balance ensures citizens of all political stripes don’t feel marginalized.
While Mayor-Elect Leirion Gaylor Baird and the newly elected council members have yet to be seated, our conversations with these candidates – and with citizens so invested in their city during the run-up to the election – leave us hopeful for a bright future.