They force candidates to focus on what matters to the electorate. They force voters to consider policy history, the trajectory of their government and the mettle of their politicians. They force incumbents to earn their seats, rather than skate by on name recognition or pass the baton to an heir apparent.
And that’s why it’s time for someone to challenge Brent Ives for Tracy’s mayoral seat in the 2012 election.
It is not that Ives is an unworthy candidate or mayor. He has deep knowledge of Tracy, its issues and its people, and he’s helped direct the city’s focus toward economic development after years of residential expansion.
It is simply that democracy is best served when candidates compete in a marketplace of ideas and are made to stand by their records. If Ives serves one last mayoral term — he would be termed out after 2014 — we’d like to see him earn it.
Papers can’t be pulled from the city clerk’s office until July. But a candidate will need to step up soon to effectively challenge a man who has been immersed in Tracy politics for more than two decades.
Ives has been part of city government on some level since 1987, when he first sat on the parks and recreation commission. He became a planning commissioner, then was appointed to the City Council in 1992 before winning several elected terms, and has been chosen mayor three times, starting in 2006.
Indeed, he has never lost a Tracy election, even to formidable opponents. This go-around, two men often thought of as potential mayors-in-waiting, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Maciel and Councilman Steve Abercrombie, have already decided not to face off against Ives.
But that is precisely why someone with serious ideas needs to mount a candidacy. Too often the ascendency of Tracy’s mayors has seemed a fiat accompli. Instead of waiting for an “easier” campaign season, we’d like to see someone charge into the breach.