For the better part of two decades, Brazoria County’s elected leadership could be counted on for its stability. Even when an office changed hands, most likely the newcomer was a familiar face representing the same party as his or her predecessor.

When local voters head to the polls for the primaries in March, however, we could forgive them for wondering whether they’re voting in the right county.

The 30-day filing period for both the Democratic and Republican primary elections opens today, and it will be interesting to see who steps forward to fill spots we know are being vacated. We expect crowded fields and the potential for legitimate races to develop for the general election a year from now.

The latter is not wishful thinking, only a recognition of Brazoria County’s changing demographics. Pct. 3 Commissioner Stacy Adams is expected to see another term, but the Republican’s precinct includes the bluest chunk of the county. That northernmost area also could sway countywide races in which, for the first time since 2004, voters will be picking a new sheriff. They also will be picking a new tax assessor/collector for the first time in 20 years.

Ro’Vin Garrett, who has overseen the county’s property tax system since 2000, is the biggest name to announce a run to replace House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who announced under duress he will not seek another term. Garrett, who can be considered the establishment candidate, will face nurse Rhonda Seth and Angleton City Councilman Cody Vasut for the Republican nomination. Former Angleton Mayor Patrick Henry has announced he’ll run as a Democrat. More contenders are possible before the filing period ends in a campaign sure to involve the Empower Texans folks.

Sheriff Charles Wagner is also calling it a career after more than a half-century in law enforcement, and there is no shortage of candidates to replace him, including Richard Foreman, Bo Stallman and Randy Rhyne on the GOP side.

With a presidential race heading to the ballot next year, we can guarantee there will be a lot of interest and participating in the process. Knowing many of the people who are asking Brazoria County voters for the opportunity to serve them, we trust the local races will be civil and issues-oriented, which is how all campaigns should be.

That doesn’t mean they’ll be dull, though.

Brazoria County residents are lucky to have such diverse, dedicated people willing to step forward and put their names on the ballot and reputations on the line. Let’s focus on how effective each candidate can be in the office they seek and block all the noise from outside groups pushing agendas that don’t reflect who we are as a county.

We encourage everyone to be engaged and open-minded as the county sees such an unusual level of churn among its leadership.

This editorial was written by Michael Morris, managing editor of The Facts.

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