If our politicians are so bad, why don’t you run for office?

Some interesting thoughts from Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis. Despite the contentious election season, nobody seems to be talking much about Appalachia's future other than some heated rhetoric about the coal industry. If everyone's so fed up with being ignored, and the old guard doesn't seem to have any new ideas, why don't we see more new faces in local and state elections?

Merlene Davis: Learn how to get off the sidelines and into the political game

Two out of three people you casually approach in a grocery store will tell you they don't like the slate of political candidates running for elective offices.

OK. I just made up that statistic.

But it just seems like more and more people are complaining about the folks who find the courage, time, energy and money to ask for your vote.

So, why don't those who are complaining throw their hats into the ring? Why don't more of us run for office?

One reason might be that we don't fully grasp all that is involved in a candidacy and are afraid to jump in. Young people, especially, seem to be disconnecting from public service.

The League of Women Voters of Lexington and of Berea & Madison County, and Eastern Kentucky University's Kentucky Institute for Public Governance are sponsoring a Candidate School Workshop that organizers hope will eliminate the "fear-of-the-unknown" excuse.

Cecile Schubert, president of the League in Berea/ Madison County, said the workshop would chop the political process into digestible pieces so anyone considering a run would be better prepared.

Our system needs an infusion of fresh ideas and younger candidates in the pipeline to ensure the future of democracy, Schubert said.

For young people who have thought about running, "we know they have so much more on their plates than when we were younger," she said. "But I think they need to realize that when there is so much negative going on they can be a positive influence."

And just so you know, the co-sponsors of the workshop are making "a concerted effort to keep this non- partisan," Schubert said.

Speakers and elected officials will talk about filing for office, the pros and cons of running for office, how to create a media campaign and how to finance a campaign, said Cindy Heine, vice president of the Lexington chapter and first vice president of the Kentucky League of Women Voters.

"It's the nuts and bolts," she said.

State, county and city elected officials will give advice and talk about their experiences, she said. Some of the scheduled speakers include former state Rep. Harry Moberly; Terry Naydan of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance; Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger; state Sen. Jared Carpenter, R- Richmond; state Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond; and Richmond City Commissioner Jason Morgan.

The Lexington league hosted a similar workshop in 2006, and about 25 people participated, Heine said.

"Our democracy depends on good public service," Heine said. "Any citizen who cares about our government is encouraged to attend."

Schubert agreed.

"The League promotes diversity in terms of candidates, be it gender, culture or ethnicity so that all groups of a community can be represented and heard from," she said.

And that would include all those who complain about the men and women who sacrifice their family and leisure time to serve us.

If you are on the sidelines and can do a better job, this workshop will help you get a leg up on your competition.

After watching candidates on the national and state levels implode in recent months and watching people protest the regulation of our banking industry, now seems like a good time to give participation some serious thought.

Reach Merlene Davis at (859) 231-3218 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3218, or mdavis1@herald-leader.com.

If you're interested in the Candidate School being held in Richmond on November 12, visit the Kentucky League of Women Voters website.