Finding someone both passionate and informed about politics is not always an easy task, something that members from both sides of the political spectrum have learned in recent years.
In the most recent local election cycles, many races saw only one candidate, leaving the public with no options for who their local lawmakers would be in the coming years. All nine council seats are up for election in November. In 2011, there was only one contested race for the council. In 2009, there were no contested council races.
According to Vince DeJoy, D-Ward IV, both Democrats and Republicans have found it difficult to recruit candidates for City Council and Chautauqua County Legislature who can bring their life, business experience, financial resources and time commitment it takes to run for office.
"There is no political fundraising machine for candidates," DeJoy said. "These races are self-funded and take an extraordinary amount of time away from your family and normal activities just to run for an office that is virtually a volunteer-like position with a small stipend. The Jamestown Democratic Committee has been fortunate in that we have found candidates that have the passion to serve and are willing to make the time commitments necessary to win and then govern. The city Democrats hold six of the nine council seats and all of the Jamestown county legislative seats, which is a good position to be in for the 2013 election."
With only three remaining seats not held by the Democrats, Republicans have found it equally as difficult to recruit people that want to be involved in the political process.
"Each year we'll look over the election books and try to find people that might possibly be interested in doing some type of work for our committee," said Tony Dolce, R-Ward II. "We're always looking for people that want to voluntarily be involved, that way they can learn and understand the process, which makes them more apt to run for office in the future."
Dolce echoed DeJoy's sentiment regarding the commitment that is required for a position in the local political machine.
"Running for these positions is a huge committment, both personally and financially," said Dolce. "A lot of people that might otherwise get involved are kind of reluctant because of that fact. Politics is a difficult job, whatever level you're looking at. It's a lot of work and you get a lot of criticism, so it makes many people think twice about running, especially if it involves challenging an incumbent. Overall, there are a lot of different issues that play into it."
Because of this reluctance to run, many local elections have seen races run without opposition in recent years, leading to a low voter turnout in many cases. In some cases however, even with exciting races, voter turnout has still failed to see impressive numbers, according to DeJoy.
"Perhaps more coverage from the local media would help to spur interest in these races," said DeJoy. "The candidates don't have the financial resources to buy commercials or even print advertisements. It is about lawn signs and door-to-door to get the message out. Meeting people face-to-face at their door is still the best way to campaign, but it is next to impossible to reach even 50 percent of the voters in your given ward or district. I do, however, believe that when it comes to City Council, there aren't the spirited political discussions that fall along ideological dogma. The Jamestown City Council members from all three parties been very collaborative in establishing policy that has the people of our city in mind, and not special interests."