As we leave the election cycle behind us and look forward to the winners being sworn in after the first of the year, we find Clinton County in an odd position.

Specifically, all five of our seats in next year’s Iowa Legislature will be filled by exactly the same people who were there the past two years: Sens. Roger Stewart, D-Preston, and Frank Wood, D-Eldridge, and Reps. Polly Bukta, D-Clinton, Steve Olson, R-DeWitt, and Tom Schueller, D-Maquoketa. Of those, only Wood’s seat was not on Tuesday’s ballot.

But although we have the same five faces, there was so much turnover throughout the state that the tables have been turned.

Bukta has served in the Iowa House since 1997, and her party has been in the minority the entire time. Four years ago, Stewart was a freshman senator in the minority party. Now both are members of the majority and, as veteran members, poised to assume leadership responsibilities or at least have a bigger voice on various committees.

For people who put stock in how much power a majority party has — and people who support said party — this is good news. Outgoing Speaker of the House Chris Rants, R-Sioux City, wielded considerable power in the last session despite his party having just a 51-49 advantage. The 25-25 Senate is a thing of the past.

With Chet Culver set to occupy the governor’s mansion — and we’re led to believe that Tom Vilsack’s strong backing of his successor means Culver will have much the same approach — Iowa is very, very much a blue state.

In eastern Iowa, we’ll be represented in Washington, D.C., by Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat. It seems that will be a stark difference from the tenures of U.S. Reps. Jim Nussle and Jim Leach, the two Iowa Republicans who have represented Clinton for more than a decade.

Will our area be adversely affected with our Congressional delegate being someone from the opposite corner of the district? Or will it be better served with a Democrat now that the House is no longer under Republican control? Regardless of party affiliation — will Braley work as hard as Nussle seemed to do to be visible locally? And are there things more important than visibility?

That’s the beauty of the political process. Although the question of who will serve and who will not has been answered definitively, the questions about how those people will affect our communities began anew once the returns came in. The answers will take weeks, months and sometimes years to discern.

On an even more local level, we were somewhat surprised by the results of the Clinton County Board of Supervisors race. Board Chairman Lewis Todtz, bidding for a fourth four-year term, garnered less votes than the other two on the ballot, Republican Jill Davisson, who won a fifth term, and the leading vote-getter, newcomer Dennis Starling, a Democrat.

The voters seemed to speak clearly — Starling collected 8,497 votes, Davisson 8,371 and Todtz 7,806. Only 38 percent of the county’s 16,849 voters opted for a straight ticket selection, though nearly 65 percent of those voters chose Democrats. In the Clinton County Attorney’s race, incumbent Mike Wolf, a Republican, got 9,105 votes to the 7,407 of Democrat challenger Bruce Ingham.

That’s a lot of numbers, but the message appears clear: Clinton County voters in large part see offices like supervisor and attorney as non-partisan, voting for candidates based on their approach and not party affiliation. We support that approach.

That said, it is sad to lose a public servant like Lewis Todtz. Taking nothing away from Starling, who clearly was the voters’ choice, we salute Todtz for his 12 years of service on the county board. He has proved to be fair, wise and accessible over those years, three qualities every public servant should aspire to master. We trust he will continue to serve the county in other capacities and look forward to seeing what that service entails.

In all, more than 52 percent of the county’s registered voters turned out to vote. That leaves significant room for improvement, although it blows away the numbers posted for school board, municipal and primary elections. On the other end of the spectrum, voter turnout was 66 percent during the 2004 presidential election cycle.

Thanks to all who ran and to all who voted. Local voters seemed to have more choices than in years past, and that’s always a good thing. To see people willing to serve and people willing to choose is evidence that there are folks out there who do care about the direction we’re headed.

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