Opinion The Counter Opinion: The race for Athens treasurer By The New Political Posted on February 21, 2020 9 min read 0 0 115 Graphic by Maggie Prosser On Nov. 5, 2019, incumbent Councilmember Peter Kotses won reelection to his at-large City Council seat after receiving 17.69% of the vote. Shortly after, however, Kotses announced that he is running for Athens County Treasurer. In this election, Kotses will challenge Ric Wasserman, the incumbent Democratic treasurer. We asked our opinion writers what they think about Kotses’ campaign and the way local elections function. Contributing are Hannah Fleming, a freshman political science major, Zach Richards, a sophomore education major and Charlotte Caldwell, a sophomore journalism major. Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. Should Kotses have run for reelection for his City Council seat? Zach: Kotses was perfectly qualified to run for reelection. Although his winning meant that City Council lost Pat McGee, the only candidate to run outside of the Democratic Party, the fact that he was already on City Council meant that he was qualified to run again. However, Kotses said that he’ll run for the job of treasurer because he thinks he’ll enjoy it more than crafting legislation, so if running for treasurer was his plan all along, he shouldn’t have run for reelection. Hannah: I agree that if it was Kotses’ plan to run for treasurer the entire time, then he should not have run for reelection. If he was planning to run for the treasurer position anyway, this makes his campaign for City Council appear as a backup plan. Not only would this degrade his current position as a City Council member, but it takes away the opportunity for another voice to be heard in the council chambers. Charlotte: Since Kotses can serve the majority of his term on City Council before he would take office as treasurer in September, it makes sense that he ran, especially since he was the incumbent and was basically guaranteed the position. However, the news that Kotses was running for treasurer may have been better received if he announced his plans before the election. This also would have been a good show of transparency for his treasurer campaign. Does Kotses have more qualifications for the position than Wasserman? Zach: Given that Wasserman is the incumbent treasurer, he clearly has more experience with the actual job than Kotses does. Kotses’ time in City Council means that he wouldn’t be coming into the job as a complete novice, but ultimately Wasserman has more qualifications. Hannah: I don’t necessarily think that Kotses is more qualified than Wasserman for the treasurer position. However, it is important to note that he would have some financial experience from running his business that could prove beneficial as a treasurer rather than a City Council member. Charlotte: It seems that Kotses and Wasserman have similar qualifications, but one perk of voting for Wasserman is that he has already been in the position, so he already knows how being a treasurer works in Athens. Both candidates have been small business owners in the past. One difference is that Wasserman was a long-time leader on the Board of Directors for ACENet, an organization that helps small businesses succeed in Athens County. Based on these qualifications alone, Wasserman may be more qualified for the job and will probably win regardless of Kotses’ campaign. Wasserman won the position by picking the highest card in a deck of cards. Should a tie in an election within the same political party be decided more formally? Zach: It seems unfair and arbitrary that a tie in an election is broken by luck of the draw, but there are really only two other options and they present their own problems. One way is to designate some official or organization as the tiebreaker and have them decide who wins, which could open up the system to corruption and suspicion of bribery. The other option is to have another election, which could take months, use up a lot of resources and might drive down turnout. Ultimately, there really doesn’t seem to be a better alternative than luck of the draw. Hannah: If there is a tie within the same political party, the winner should not be decided by something as trivial as drawing cards. Other counties use a coin toss to determine the winner in tied elections. A position that is determined by pure luck rather than the voice of the people takes away from the distinguished political process in which elections take place. Because of this, voters may not take future elections as seriously, which would contribute to the already abysmal voter turnout rate. However, I will admit that I have no other solution to offer up at this point. Charlotte: In a local election where voter turnout is already nonexistent and the candidates are from the same party, this seems to be the fairest process if they want to avoid recounting or revoting. However, if it were a state or national election, then there would be no option of a coin toss or drawing from cards. In order to maintain transparency with voters, there should at least be an attempt at a recount or a revote so the candidates are not accused of being corrupt for the rest of their time holding office.