Hamilton County Democrats who wanted to choose a candidate to face President Donald Trump this fall in Tuesday's primary election had no input on who would be the Hamilton County assessor.
Four years ago, local Democrats who wanted to choose between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (or, technically, also former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley) for the party's presidential nomination also didn't have a say in who would be the next judge in Hamilton County Criminal Court, Division 2.
No matter the party, that doesn't seem right.
Of Hamilton County's constitutional offices, assessor is the only one elected in the same year as a presidential election. The Criminal Court election four years ago occurred only because of a vacancy in the office.
In the last 30 years, 2016 and 2020 are the only years in which adherents of one party, who chose to vote in the presidential primary of that party, were denied the opportunity to help determine the winner of a county office. In all other years, either the assessor candidate was unopposed in his party and had no general election opponent, or he had opposition from the other party in the August general election.
But in 2016, when Clinton and Sanders were in a battle for Democratic hearts, no Democratic candidate qualified to run for Criminal Court judge. On the Republican side, now-Judge Tom Greenholtz, Mike Little and Boyd Patterson — three worthy candidates — vied. Greenholtz, who had been appointed to the post the previous fall, won with 47.2% of the vote.
This year, in the assessor's race, incumbent Marty Haynes faced off against Hamilton County Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks in the Republican primary. No Democrat qualified to run in the general election in August. Yesterday's winner is all but guaranteed the seat.
But no local Democratic adherent, who wished to choose among the many candidates for president (though, after this past weekend, mainly former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sanders or U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts), could help determine which man would be best to determine the assessments of their home and commercial property.
The circumstances, though rare, are a quirk of county government and one we wish might be changed.