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Of primary interest

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A bumper crop of candidates for the Watertown City Council has resulted in some lively debate and will hopefully result in a high voter turnout for this Tuesday’s primary.

Six residents have been campaigning for the two vacancies on the council in this year’s election. This is the most number of candidates for a City Council primary in more than a decade.

City Council incumbents Teresa R. Macaluso and Jeffrey M. Smith have been joined by newcomers Jasmine W. Borreggine, Cody J. Horbacz, Stephen A. Jennings and Rodney J. LaFave. The four candidates with the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will move on to the general election to be held Nov. 5.

It is refreshing to have this level of interest in running for a seat on the City Council, as we have not seen so many candidates for years. Not counting the mayoral races, here are the numbers for recent primaries: 2011, two candidates; 2009, three candidates; 2007, four candidates; 2005, five candidates; 2003, four candidates; and 2001, four candidates.

The primary for the nonpartisan Watertown City Council election advances four candidates to the general election, where two council members will be seated. So the only competitive primary we’ve had in the past decade was in 2005.

All six candidates this year have impressive backgrounds as engaged members of our community. They offer a range of career and educational experiences as well as various ideas on how to approach problems that must be addressed.

Voters will be asked this Tuesday to vote for two candidates, with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election. This process caused some confusion this year as ballots were originally printed with instructions to vote for four candidates.

City officials caught the error and requested that new ballots be printed. People who previously sent in absentee ballots were compelled to submit the revised document, which obviously was an inconvenience. But we’re glad that the honest mistake was recognized in time so that this week’s primary can proceed as planned.

While we commend all six candidates for their desire to serve Watertown residents on the City Council, only four will run in the general election. We would prefer to see Mr. Jennings, Mr. LaFave, Ms. Macaluso and Mr. Smith advance to November’s contest. We believe they offer the best combination of experiences, skills and objectives to make for a vigorous debate leading up to the general election.

Once the primary is completed, the four winning candidates must distinguish themselves on the issues facing our city. We look forward to delving deeper into their policy goals and ideas on how to improve the quality of life for all Watertown residents.

Voters must not ignore the intense interest that so many candidates have expressed in running for the two vacancies this year. Primaries have historically seen low voter turnout, and this is due in part to the normally small number of candidates.

But now that we have a real contest, it would be preposterous not to participate in this year’s primary. The polls will be open on Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m., and we urge everyone to perform their civic duty by voting.


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