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As you can see from the ads on television, it is election season AGAIN! These roll around every two years just like clockwork, and we cannot avoid them.
This year we will be electing many of the state officers – like the governor, etc. – and our local county/district officers – like the district attorney, county commissioners and two county school board members, to name a few. These elections are VERY important to all citizens, and I urge you to start paying attention. The primary elections are currently scheduled for May 24.
By Monday we should know who the candidates will be in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. Then it will be up to us to do our due diligence to research these candidates to determine which candidate we think is best suited and experienced for the job for which they are running.
This IS a time for job interviews, and we need to treat it as such. I see many potential candidates who I know personally or have met in person, but they may not end up being the best candidate for the job, so I will have to do some real research before I cast my vote. Friendship is one thing, but the ability to do the job based on my values is quite another thing.
So, you might ask, what should you do next? Determine what issues are the most important to you. Is it education, the economy, jobs, crime, etc.? If you are concerned about the education of your children, you will want to pay attention to the state school board members’ and county school board members’ races.
If crime is your concern, look at the sheriff and district attorney candidates. The economy and jobs are more under the governor and County Commission areas. Of course, there are also races for U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, and you also need to find out where they stand on your issues.
There are many ways to research the candidates and find out more about them – don’t base your vote on only the television/radio ads. Some of these are put together by groups supporting the candidate and only speak to their particular issue – gun control, abortion, education, unions. Any viable candidate will have a website for their campaign where they cover their opinions on most every issue – READ THEM.
You will probably not find any one candidate who will agree with ALL of your opinions so this is where you try to find the one with whom you most closely identify. Don’t make up your mind too early because more information will come out the closer we get to the election – just watch out for mudslinging or off topic statements.
Read the small print on ads to determine who paid for the ad, and then RESEARCH that group to find out for what they stand. If you are leaning towards a certain candidate and your priority issue is education, you might not want to vote for one who is supported by the AEA or NEA (education unions). Watch out for PACs (Political Action Committee) that may or may not actually be a part of the campaign.
If you are REALLY interested in knowing about the candidate, you can go to their financial reports on the secretary of state’s website (alavote.gov). You will be able to see all donations over $100 they have received. Are they financed by big business, lobbyists for certain associations, unions, OR are they getting most of their funding from individual donations of $2,500 or less?
You will find that many companies and associations donate to almost every candidate in some amount, but the larger the donation, the more they expect to receive something in return (votes on THEIR issues, not OURS).
And don’t just listen to the candidates who are doing all the big advertising. They are usually being financed heavily by other elected officials, groups/associations, or big business. They overshadow candidates who REFUSE money from these sources and rely on donations and funding from smaller groups and individuals. Ask yourself, who is buying votes and what do they expect in return?
Go to local political meetings and events to hear for yourself. If you can, attend some meetings of the board, commission, or group the candidates want to be part of to find out what the job REALLY is about. Sometimes people will run for an office they know nothing about – sometimes that’s not a bad thing if the incumbent isn’t doing a good job either!
Yes, all of these steps require your time and effort. But, think about some people you may have voted for and are now unhappy with. Have they or their staff been responsive to your calls or letters? Do you ever hear from them about something they have or have not done? OR, have they gone against what you thought they stood for? Have they or even a member of their staff ever been available at events in your area (even driving distance)?
Sometimes the incumbent is the best candidate, but sometimes a change might be in order. If so, change the way you choose your candidate.
And, finally, don’t believe everything you read or hear. Find at least two to three REPUTABLE sources for each piece of information. You can use Google, Facebook, news media (print or otherwise), or other social media sites as long as you consider the source.
So, now I hope I have provided some thought-provoking information that will help you through the next 10 months. The general election is in November! Voting is a responsibility, right and duty of being an American citizen. We accept that responsibility, protect that right and exercise that duty.