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Our View: Justice center decision a factor in campaign
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Single-issue candidates in politics at any level are cause for concern. Rarely are people who seek political office to address one specific problem prepared to face the myriad duties public service entails.

So on first thought, the fact that at least five new candidates for Green County Board cite the justice center decision as their motivation to run should send up a red flag. But the justice center issue, in many ways, is different.

The Green County Board's decision to build a $12.6 million justice center, and move the court system out of the historic downtown courthouse, gets to the heart of what public government is.

And, frankly, it's progress that at least seven of the 31 county supervisor elections on April 1 will be contested. In years past, we've seen as few as one and three of the seats being contested.

Green County Clerk Mike Doyle said he believes the higher number of contested races is a result of four incumbents not seeking re-election.

That may be true, but the justice center played a large role in incumbents being challenged in five districts and four people seeking open seats in two others.

In at least five districts, the county's handling of the new justice center spurned interest in new candidates to run.

"I didn't like the decision to move the judicial functions from downtown to the city's outskirts," District 3 challenger John Glynn told the Times. "There was no promotion of meaningful public input."

Glynn will oppose Gene Curran, a member of the Ad Hoc Justice Center Property Committee and one of the outspoken supporters of the justice center's location and plans.

Patrick O'Brien announced Dec. 14 he would be a candidate for the District 23 seat.

"It is my intention to see this project stopped now, and go no further until a referendum is held for the citizens of Green County," O'Brien said.

Peter Condon, running for the District 14 seat his wife, Sherry, is vacating, said he is concerned with how the cost of the justice center increased by more than $4 million from its original cost "without much discussion." Sherry Condon was one of four board members who voted against the $12.6 million option.

The justice center decision, while already made, is likely to continue to spur debate throughout the county. While the county's plans can't realistically be reversed, the process still can -- and should -- be questioned during the election.

Did supervisors, in moving the justice center to Monroe's outskirts and approving a much higher cost than what the board first approved, listen to their constituents or did they do what they and others in county government wanted?

Was the whole justice center process public enough? Were the options and their ramifications studied closely enough? Many people don't believe so.

These questions go beyond the decision to build a justice center. They get to essential questions about the duties of public servants. That's why, in this case, candidates motivated by one particular issue or decision can be a positive thing.