Eric Riddle was not victorious in his bid for a seat on the Columbus City Council, but on election night Nov. 7, his prevailing opponent, Kent Anderson, said Riddle was a winner.
Not just that, but Anderson said everyone who had stepped up to stand before voters and offer their vision of service also were winners, regardless of whether they won the most votes.
It’s not an easy thing to do, Anderson said of stepping forward to run for office. He’s right. Candidates who sign up to run are subjecting themselves to public scrutiny that few of us would welcome. At the same time, too many people completely tune out politics and, truth be told, don’t give a fig about it.
Sadly, that is understandable. Spend a few minutes looking at how too many politicians on the state and national stage talk about one another, and you can easily understand why so many people want nothing to do with the whole business.
We are fortunate here in Columbus, though, because during the entire municipal election, you would have been hard-pressed to hear a single candidate, regardless of party, speak ill of his or her opponent.
You would have been far more likely to hear candidates cordially chatting with one another outside polling places on Election Day.
In the grand scheme of things, Columbus is a smaller, more tight-knit community than some where the first rule of politics is to attack and vilify your opponent, but that alone doesn’t explain why those who seek to lead here strike a far different tone.
We suspect the reason for that is simple: The voters demand it. We should take a lesson from this.
What if we all agreed to reject candidates on the state and federal level whose idea of leadership is attacking and tearing others down? What if we supported candidates who instead offered a vision of service that builds up our people, our state, our nation?
Of course, local candidates have their differences too, but in the Columbus city election, they agreed to be civil and respectful toward one another and to the public they sought to represent. It was, in a word, refreshing.
They campaigned on issues, not attacks.
They stressed areas where we can work together, across party lines, to build a better community. Columbus has challenges, and candidates didn’t shy from them. To name just a couple, we have too much substance abuse to too little affordable housing.
On these issues and others, leadership, resolve and trust matter. Those who seek office here put serving the public first.
Riddle mentioned an anecdote on election night that illustrates this. He and fellow council candidates Alex Englebert and Chris Rutan were meeting voters on Election Day at the Donner Center when they noticed a nearby motorist’s van had broken down in the street.
They stopped what they were doing and pushed the van out of traffic. It was a simple gesture, but meaningful, Riddle said: “Three candidates from different parties working together to help a guy out.”
Neither Englebert, Riddle or Rutan won their city council races on Tuesday. But for the respectful manner in which they and all candidates for city office conducted themselves and campaigned this year, they are, as Anderson said, all winners.
And so is Columbus.