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Letter: It's never been this hard to recruit candidates for office

This year, the primary concern among many is that they and their families will be attacked online personally and in comments sections. That their livelihoods and friendships will be put at risk by those attacks. And even some general concerns about physical and home safety. Because of that we, as a society, are going to miss out on having the best possible choices.

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There’s something that’s been bothering me a bit lately and wanted to share. I’ve been recruiting candidates for office for well over 20 years. Some years that’s as simple as encouraging friends to run, and other years it’s involved a huge number of hours and meetings with 100+ potential candidates.

This is the hardest I’ve ever seen it trying to help someone agree to run for office. And second place isn’t even close. In the past, prospective candidates said they were concerned about winning, about the work needed, about not feeling like they were qualified enough for the role. This year, the primary concern among many is that they and their families will be attacked online personally and in comments sections. That their livelihoods and friendships will be put at risk by those attacks. And even some general concerns about physical and home safety. Because of that we, as a society, are going to miss out on having the best possible choices.

This should bother all of us. When good, smart, competent citizens are (understandably) fearful of putting their names on the line, we’re left with a smaller number of people involved because they genuinely care about making our communities better. And we’re left with an increasingly larger number of candidates who not only welcome the politics of personal destruction, but thrive on it. A democracy can’t succeed under those circumstances, and it’s happening right before our eyes.

Jamie Selzler is a former director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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