To their credit, candidates in Kokomo’s municipal election refrained from the kind of mudslinging we’ve come to expect before Election Day.

They spoke about issues, but to a great extent Tuesday’s election was about qualifications. Voters were left to decide which candidate from either the Republican or Democratic parties could best carry out the duties of the office.

Of course, that isn’t the case everywhere. Tune in to one of the cable news channels, and negative campaigning is the order of the day. Too often the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns are about who can distort the truth with the greatest effectiveness.

In a perfect world, political candidates would stay focused on the issues, and they would resist the temptation to sling mud. But the sad fact is negative campaigning works. In a contest for those last few undecided voters, all sense of fair play seems to go out the window.

During the last few months of the Kokomo mayoral race, even some supporters of the office-seekers took cheapshots at the other candidate and political party.

Still, with all of its faults, the American political process is the best the world has to offer, and the issues debated at a local level are perhaps the most important we face. Voters Tuesday gave the winners the opportunity to make decisions that will determine the sort of community we live in.

Congratulations to the winners, but thanks to everyone who stepped up as a candidate, especially those whose campaigns came up short.

Without their willingness to risk rejection at the polls, we could not have a discussion of issues facing our community, and it’s that discussion that is at the heart of the democratic process. We salute these candidates and urge all of them to stay involved in the critical business of local government.

It’s worth noting at this point there’s a reason elected officials are called public servants. This is the public’s business they’ll be conducting in 2020, and we urge all of them to keep that in mind in the months and years ahead.

It’s often tempting when things get difficult to take the discussion behind closed doors, but we urge Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican victors who’ll take office in the new year to resist that urge. The public’s business is best conducted in the full light of day.

Public bodies should keep their discussions open and above board, and they should make sure public records always remain accessible to all.

Kokomo Tribune editorial board

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