What a difference five years make.
In 2007, the last time Hilton Head Island Town Council's Wards 1, 3 and 6 seats were up for election, no one challenged the incumbents, so there was no election (a requirement under state law since 2003).
The same thing had happened in 2005. No election was held for Wards 2, 4 and 5 when only the incumbents filed.
That tide of apathy finally turned in 2009, when six candidates ran in a special election to fill the Ward 2 seat. In 2010, the first election in the town's new even-year election schedule, seven people ran for mayor, and all three ward seats up for election had competitive races.
We're happy to see that trend continue. Incumbent Lee Edwards and challengers Jeff Myers and Andrew Jablonecki have filed to represent Ward 3, and Jim Collett and John McCann have filed for Ward 6. Incumbent Ken Heitzke has announced he won't run again.
That leaves Ward 1, represented by Bill Ferguson since 1993. Ferguson, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2010, receiving 5 percent of the votes cast, filed Monday for the Ward 1 seat. He hasn't faced competition since 2003 when he won by 35 votes over John Ingram, the former head of the Hilton Head-Bluffton Branch of the NAACP. In 2007, native islander Irv Campbell withdrew his bid for the seat after he learned Ferguson would run for re-election.
We'd like to see someone challenge Ferguson. Were he to win in a competitive race, it would be in the context of his defending his performance on council and laying out his vision for the town and his district.
The Hilton Head community, especially Ward 1, benefits from debate on the issues.
Filing closes at noon Aug. 15.