The Sun: Editorial: Highs and lows from the past week around the region

July 30, 2018 06:54AM

The optics weren't especially appealing last week when five of the six Richmond Town Council candidates said they were going to run as a team. They framed it as a move “to do what's right for the people” despite their nominal political differences: four Republicans and a Democrat. That's one way of looking at it. But because all five incumbents are men and their lone challenger is a woman, it came across as something else: A boys club saying no girls are allowed. The woman, former town Recreation Director Nell M. Carpenter, is running as an independent, just as she did in 2016, when she finished sixth out of 10 candidates for the council. She said she would offer residents and business owners “a new perspective, a fresh set of eyes, a break from the status quo.”

Mark Trimmer, the Republican-endorsed councilor who got the ball rolling on the unified slate, likely would not disagree with Carpenter's sentiments. In a mini-profile in The Sun not too long ago, he described himself as a change agent, and for 2018, he's promising a positive campaign. We disagree, though, with his contention that there isn't room for party politics at the local level. It's hard work, but effective political parties need to be built from the ground up: In the words of the nongovernmental National Democratic Institute, they are essential institutions of democracy: “By competing in elections parties offer citizens a choice in governance, and while in opposition they can hold governments accountable.” It's easy to disparage the parties, but their weakness on the local level has led to governance by cliques, and on the state and national levels by corporations, unions, and other special interests who have gained a stranglehold on public policymaking.

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