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Opinion

I do not live in Baxter Estates and, except during the recent crisis when the library was trying to expand its parking lot, I am usually not aware of their political issues. The excellent story (March 31) by Dolores O'Brien about the recent mayoral election was chilling. It seems to have been easy to stage a coup in Baxter Estates and install a mayor that most residents didn't know was running. Since the previous mayor ran unopposed, people didn't bother to vote. How often have the rest of us skipped standing in line at the election hall rather than register our vote for an unopposed sewer commissioner or garbage commissioner? But in Baxter Estates a few neighbors secretly decided to work as a block to write in a candidate who never had to express his platform or ideas to public scrutiny. Even after he was elected, he refused to tell the Port News reporter what he stood for (or against). And it is legal.

How hilarious their coup must have seemed to the united neighbors. How powerful they must have felt. But for the rest of us, it is a spooky reminder of how fragile our democratic system of government is. It requires the consent of the governed, not only to be governed, but to run open, honest elections.

Martha Seidel


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