Sometimes in all the chatter around an election, it’s easy to lose track of what the candidates are really talking about.
Allow the wonderful world of math to help. They’re talking about budgets, services and funds.
It’s not as sexy as jobs or taxes, but it’s what all the candidates for commissioner in the region actually wrote about in their candidate questionnaires, which appear in The Lima News today and continue to appear on LimaOhio.com through the March 6 primary.
How can I be so sure? I counted.
To be completely honest, I let an Internet site, wordcounter.com, count for me. While I read every word in our election special section before we printed it, I didn’t count them all. I plugged in the words written by the candidates — all 4,767 of them for the two contested Republican primaries for the Allen County commissioners’ seats — to see which root words came up the most.
Once you toss the obvious words such as a, Allen, county, the and year out, certain words popped to the top: budget (64 times), service (40), fund (36) and work (32).
It’s interesting, as the top four words were different back in the 2010 primary, when tax, plan, govern and economic popped to the top.
These trends aren’t unique. If you look at the most popular words used by candidates for commissioner in Putnam and Van Wert counties, they also spent a fair amount of time talking about money issues. Van Wert County candidates did spend a bit of time talking about the business climate, but they’ll soon learn what they can and can’t do about that.
If you were to believe your ears at the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce debate of commissioner candidates, they’re talking about talking. Communication is the key to all other things, they said.
I started thinking about this whole topic when Bob Ulm, a veteran reporter for Maverick Media, said at the debate he heard commissioner candidates talking about communicating better for decades. In the last six years since I’ve been involved in candidate forums at The Lima News, I’d have to agree. Everyone thinks they’re going to come into office and fix everything by talking about it more.
With their word selections in their questionnaires, I’m happy to see they can at least identify what they’re able to talk about in those conversations. In most cases, they are things they can control. They might love it if some laws changed or an influx of business came to them, but there’s relatively little they can do about that.
The reality is politicians at this level can only do so much, and most of it revolves around moving money from one pot of money to another.
We’re in such a unique situation in both Allen and Van Wert counties, with two incumbents deciding it’s time to quit. We’ll have new faces and new ideas at the table, deciding how to spend that money in the future. How the candidates would do it pops to the top when you look at their word choices.
In the one race, Paul Basinger repeats words such as budget (16 times), service and resident (11) and must, work and office (seven each). Dennis Fricke chooses words such as work (12) and board and high (seven each). He also used school eight times, but that reflected his current experience. Cory Noonan chooses budget (17), must and fund (14) and work (10).
In the other race, Jay Begg turned to budget (10 times), fund (nine) and service (eight). He also used fair eight times, but most of those references were to his current job. Lynn Mohler jumped right to service (10), budget and develop (nine each) and economic (six).
To show some introspective self-evaluation, the words most often used in this column include word (13 times), talk (11) and times (10).
If the candidates stick to doing what they’re talking about doing, perhaps we’ll finally be able to elect leaders who understand what they can and cannot do.