About 17,000 registered voters in Ellis County — some of whom already have cast their ballots — will have the opportunity Tuesday to head to their respective polling sites among 10 throughout the county.

Those taking the time to exercise their civic duty will have a difficult choice to make in selecting a new county commissioner in District 1.

Each candidate — Democrat Chris Rorabaugh, Republican Butch Schlyer and independent John Walz — proves a worthwhile applicant.

The voters’ selection will replace outgoing Marcy McClelland, who was defeated in the August primary by Chris Rorabaugh, a Democrat and former longtime educator.

Let us start there.

Rorabaugh no doubt would bring a different perspective and a somewhat disparate skill set than his opponents for the seat. While not focused so much on budgets, Rorabaugh seems to have a more avid interest in keeping future generations at home instead of further populating the eastern portion of the state, for example. He has shown great support for expanding wind energy in Ellis County and has focused his efforts on development of new money within the county. In terms of the budget, he has been adamant about shaving commissioner salaries to relieve the stress — an admirable approach.

If nothing else, voters could find some comfort in the fact Rorabaugh worked in education for nearly four decades. Experience in dealing with childish minds often could come in handy in dealing with certain offices.

Secondly is Walz, a lifelong county resident with three decades experience in law enforcement and a former business owner in Hays.

His experience with the Ellis City Council (11 years), Ellis Recreation Commission (10 years) and as a school board member in Ellis (eight years) could help his case for getting a county nod.

He has boasted a willingness to listen to voters and turn it over to the taxpayers to decide when some important decisions are to be made, a practice that obviously helped him survive years of service in the Ellis community.

The downfall to that, however, is sometimes we as voters don’t always know — or do — what’s best. We elect officials to make those decisions for us.

We would hope, if elected, Walz could make those decisions as an elected official, not necessarily relying on the vote.

Lastly we offer our selection to take a seat on the commission — Schlyer.

Simply based on experience — which is what the county needs as it faces a budget crisis — Schlyer is the best candidate of three quality selections.

Another lifelong county resident, the former county health administrator worked directly with the commission for 23 years. Given the biggest issues facing the commissioners right now — primarily the budget — Schlyer’s experience in stretching taxpayer dollars should serve him well as a county leader.

Through his career as an administrator, Schlyer worked with 16 different county commissioners and knows what department heads go through when trying to pinch a penny — or mill as it were.

Voters certainly couldn’t go wrong with any of the three and party affiliation certainly shouldn’t be a factor, but Schlyer is the better choice for the pertinent issues that need to be resolved.

Editorial by Nick McQueen

nmcqueen@dailynews.net