The election for Lawrence County Commission is one month away. If the performances at Monday night's GOP candidates forum here in Spearfish accurately indicate the quality of the candidates, the incumbents running for Lawrence County Commission can spend the next month coasting. Unless something surprising happens, Commissioners Terry Weisenberg and Daryl Johnson have another term in office in the bag.
Now let's be clear: I offer this assessment with no malice toward the challengers. I met those challengers, Steve Rosenberg and Robert Romanov, for the first time Monday night. I have no personal axe to grind with any of them. I have no reason to think they are not men of good conscience who want to serve their communities. But in terms of intelligent policy discussion, neither Rosenberg nor Romanov demonstrated readiness for the jobs they want.
After just two questions, Steve Rosenberger demonstrated that he another of those poor souls who mistakes spouting Glenn-Beck karaoke for substantive discussion of practical policy. He declared Meade County's effort to create sensible, uniform zoning regulations an act of terror. Then, when asked to list his three key priorities, Rosenberger spoke of one: stopping a United Nations takeover of the Black Hills via "sustainable development":
Madness. Simple madness (emphasis on both words). Rosenberger would find himself frustrated and useless on the Lawrence County Commission. He would find his anti-government paranoia and national-level pontifications have nothing to do with the day-to-day decisions necessary to balance the county budget and responsibly deliver the practical and necessary services of county government.
Robert Romanov is not a paranoid nut. He's just not able to get off his script. Too often his answers Monday drifted away from the point of the question. When he did address the specific questions, his answers lacked the depth of understanding and detail offered by incumbents Weisenberg and Johnson. One of the best examples is on the question about tax increment finance districts: Johnson delivers a primer on how TIFs work; Weisenberg cites the recalcitrance of one developer in answering his questions (with, granted, a stretch to shoehorn in another mention of what he mislabels the "Obama-led Depression"; Romanov simply says something about agreeing with the other commissioners, then goes off on a tangent about the commission's good work on the new runway at the airport:
Commissioners Johnson and Weisenberg know their stuff. Rosenberger and Romanov do not. Unless the incumbents commit some gross error in the coming month and the challengers do some homework, you vote for Johnson and Weisenberg.